Accelerated Self-Replication under Non-Equilibrium, Periodic Energy Delivery

Authors

  • Dr. Rui Zhang,

    1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (USA)
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  • David A. Walker,

    1. Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (USA)
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  • Prof. Bartosz A. Grzybowski,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (USA)
    2. Department of Chemistry, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (USA)
    • Bartosz A. Grzybowski, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (USA)

      Monica Olvera de la Cruz, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (USA)

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  • Prof. Monica Olvera de la Cruz

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (USA)
    2. Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (USA)
    3. Department of Chemistry, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (USA)
    • Bartosz A. Grzybowski, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (USA)

      Monica Olvera de la Cruz, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (USA)

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  • We thank Prateek Jha and Vladimir Kuzovkov for stimulating discussions during development of the model. Numerical simulations were performed using the Northwestern University High Performance Computing Cluster Quest. This work was supported by the Non-Equilibrium Energy Research Center (NERC), which is an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Award Number DE-SC0000989. D.A.W. thanks the fellowship from the Northwestern University Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (NU-MRSEC) funded by the NSF under Award Number DMR-1121262.

Abstract

Self-replication is a remarkable phenomenon in nature that has fascinated scientists for decades. In a self-replicating system, the original units are attracted to a template, which induce their binding. In equilibrium, the energy required to disassemble the newly assembled copy from the mother template is supplied by thermal energy. The possibility of optimizing self-replication was explored by controlling the frequency at which energy is supplied to the system. A model system inspired by a class of light-switchable colloids was considered where light is used to control the interactions. Conditions under which self-replication can be significantly more effective under non-equilibrium, cyclic energy delivery than under equilibrium constant energy conditions were identified. Optimal self-replication does not require constant energy expenditure. Instead, the proper timing at which energy is delivered to the system is an essential controllable parameter to induce high replication rates.

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