A Synthetic Replicator Drives a Propagating Reaction-Diffusion Front

Ilaria Bottero, Jürgen Huck, Tamara Kosikova, Douglas Philp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


A simple synthetic autocatalytic replicator is capable of establishing and driving the propagation of a reaction-diffusion front within a 50 μL syringe. This replicator templates its own synthesis through a 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction between a nitrone component, equipped with a 9-ethynylanthracene optical tag, and a maleimide. Kinetic studies using NMR and UV-vis spectroscopies confirm that the replicator forms efficiently and with high diastereoselectivity, and this replication process brings about a dramatic change in optical properties of the sample-a change in the color of the fluorescence in the sample from yellow to blue. The addition of a small amount of the preformed replicator at a specific location within a microsyringe, filled with the reaction building blocks, results in the initiation and propagation of a reaction-diffusion front. The realization of a replicator capable of initiating a reaction-diffusion front provides a platform for the examination of interconnected replicating networks under out-of-equilibrium conditions involving diffusion processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6723-6726
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number21
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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