Professor Donna G. Blackmond of the Scripps Research Institute is supported by the Chemical Catalysis (CAT) Program in the Division of Chemistry and the Office of International Science and Engineering to work on a systems chemistry approach to self assembly and self replication. The work will be conducted in collaboration with Professor Ben L. Feringa of the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. NSF will support the research of the US-based investigators and the Netherlands Office for Scientific Research will support the research of the collaborating Dutch investigators. The objectives of the proposed research are: (1) to develop autocatalytic organic reactions of biological significance, taking as a model the chemistry of the Soai reaction, which exhibits autocatalytic behavior and amplification of chirality, and (2) to develop supramolecular systems that combine self-assembly and autocatalysis to amplify chirality through asymmetric self-replication.
If successful, the project will lead to new materials and devices and will provide new knowledge on the origin of homochirality in amino acids and sugars. Understanding how the active catalyst species assembles and propagates in autocatalytic systems may eventually provide clues on the origin of life on earth. The students involved in this research will benefit from close interaction with Dutch students working on the project and from exposure to an international scientific research experience.