Time and relative dimension in self-assembly: towards a systems chemistry of materials

Guido Panzarasa (Soft and Living Materials)

Living systems can grow bottom-up a huge variety of materials with the highest degree of sophistication and an overall efficiency that remains largely unparalleled by artificial fabrication techniques. Moreover, living materials are adaptive i.e. are able to exist and perform autonomously under dissipative conditions. These features are possible thanks to the ability to control complex reactions networks, carefully organized in spatio-temporal sequences. Filling the gap between state-of-the-art stimuli-responsive materials and living materials requires to combine materials science with systems chemistry. In this way, chemical curiosities such as clock and oscillating reactions become versatile tools to program in time the autonomous and transient self-assembly of organic as well as inorganic building blocks. The design of such ad hoc reaction networks is at the core of my current research efforts. I will show how to “clock” molecules, polymers and metal cations into different structures (from nanoparticles to gels), without the need for external control, and how this approach can pave the way to the development of (almost) living artificial materials.


  1. Panzarasa*, A. Osypova, A. Sicher, A. Bruinink, E. R. Dufresne, Controlled formation of chitosan particles by a clock reaction Soft Matter 2018, 14, 6415–6418 DOI: 10.1039/C8SM01060A
  2. Panzarasa*, Eric R. Dufresne, Impact of in situ acid generation and iodine sequestration on the chlorite-iodide clock reaction Chaos 2019, 29, 071102 (5 pp) DOI: 10.1063/1.5108791
  3. Panzarasa*, T. Sai, A. L. Torzynski, K. Smith-Mannschott, E. R. Dufresne, Supramolecular assembly by time-programmed acid autocatalysis Mol. Syst. Des. Eng. 2020 DOI: 10.1039/c9me00139e
  4. Panzarasa*, A. L. Torzynski, T. Sai, K. Smith-Mannschott, E. R. Dufresne, Transient supramolecular assembly of a functional perylene diimide controlled by a programmable pH cycle Soft Matter 2020, 16, 591-594 DOI: 10.1039/C9SM02026H
  5. C. C. M. Sproncken, B. Gumí-Audenis, G. Panzarasa, I. K. Voets, Two-stage polyelectrolyte assembly orchestrated by a clock reaction ChemSystemsChem 2020 (accepted)

Overview Materials Colloquium 2020