Applying biological principles to the assembly and selection of synthetic superstructures

L. M. Greig, D. Philp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


It has become clear over the past two decades that, in order to create functional synthetic nanoscale structures, the chemist must exploit a fundamental understanding of the self-assembly of large-scale biological structures, which exist and function at and beyond the nanoscale. This mode of construction of nanoscale structures and nanosystems represents the so-called 'bottom-up' or 'engineering-up' approach to fabrication. Significant progress has been made in the development of nanoscience by transferring concepts found in the biological world into the chemical arena. The development of simple chemical systems that are capable of instructing their own organisation into large aggregates of molecules through their mutual recognition properties has been central to this success. By utilising a diverse array of intermolecular interactions as the information source for assembly processes, chemists have successfully applied biological concepts in the construction of complex nanoscale structures and superstructures with a variety of forms and functions. More recently, the utility of assembly processes has been extended through the realisation that recognition processes can be used to select a single structure from a library of equilibrating structures. These developments open the way for the design and implementation of artificial assembly processes that are capable of adapting themselves to the local environment in which they are conducted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-300
Number of pages14
JournalChemical Society Reviews
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 9 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry


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