The creation of reaction networks capable of exhibiting responses that are properties of entire systems represents a significant challenge for the chemical sciences. The system-level behavior of a reaction network is linked intrinsically to its topology and the functional connections between its nodes. A simple network of chemical reactions constructed from four reagents, in which each reagent reacts with exactly two others, can exhibit up-regulation of two products even when only a single chemical reaction is addressed catalytically. We implement a system with this topology using two maleimides and two nitrones of different sizes - either short or long and each bearing complementary recognition sites - that react pairwise through 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reactions to create a network of four length-segregated replicating templates. Comprehensive 1H NMR spectroscopy experiments unravel the network topology, confirming that, in isolation, three out of four templates self-replicate, with the shortest template exhibiting the highest efficiency. The strongest template effects within the network are the mutually cross-catalytic relationships between the two templates of intermediate size. The network topology is such that the addition of different preformed templates as instructions to a mixture of all starting materials elicits system-level behavior. Instruction with a single template up-regulates the formation of two templates in a predictable manner. These results demonstrate that the rules governing system-level behavior can be unraveled through the application of wholly synthetic networks with well-defined chemistries and interactions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry