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Issue 6, 2009
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Self-assembly: from crystals to cells

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Self-assembly (SA) is the process in which a system's components—be it molecules, polymers, colloids, or macroscopic particles—organize into ordered and/or functional structures without human intervention. The main challenge in SA research is the ability to “program” the properties of the individual pieces such that they organize into a desired structure. Although a general strategy for doing so is still elusive, heuristic rules can be formulated that guide design of SA under various conditions and thermodynamic constraints. This Review examines SA in both the equilibrium and non-equilibrium/dynamic systems and discusses different SA modalities: energy driven, entropy-driven, templated, and field-directed. Non-equilibrium SA is discussed as a route to reconfigurable (“adaptive”) materials, and its connection to biological systems is emphasized.

Graphical abstract: Self-assembly: from crystals to cells

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Publication details

The article was received on 30 Oct 2008, accepted on 08 Dec 2008 and first published on 18 Feb 2009

Article type: Tutorial Review
DOI: 10.1039/B819321P
Soft Matter, 2009,5, 1110-1128

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    Self-assembly: from crystals to cells

    B. A. Grzybowski, C. E. Wilmer, J. Kim, K. P. Browne and K. J. M. Bishop, Soft Matter, 2009, 5, 1110
    DOI: 10.1039/B819321P

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