Date: 15 Dec 2011

Constitutional Dynamic Chemistry: Bridge from Supramolecular Chemistry to Adaptive Chemistry

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Abstract

Supramolecular chemistry aims at implementing highly complex chemical systems from molecular components held together by non-covalent intermolecular forces and effecting molecular recognition, catalysis and transport processes. A further step consists in the investigation of chemical systems undergoing self-organization, i.e. systems capable of spontaneously generating well-defined functional supramolecular architectures by self-assembly from their components, thus behaving as programmed chemical systems. Supramolecular chemistry is intrinsically a dynamic chemistry in view of the lability of the interactions connecting the molecular components of a supramolecular entity and the resulting ability of supramolecular species to exchange their constituents. The same holds for molecular chemistry when the molecular entity contains covalent bonds that may form and break reversibility, so as to allow a continuous change in constitution by reorganization and exchange of building blocks. These features define a Constitutional Dynamic Chemistry (CDC) on both the molecular and supramolecular levels.

CDC introduces a paradigm shift with respect to constitutionally static chemistry. The latter relies on design for the generation of a target entity, whereas CDC takes advantage of dynamic diversity to allow variation and selection. The implementation of selection in chemistry introduces a fundamental change in outlook. Whereas self-organization by design strives to achieve full control over the output molecular or supramolecular entity by explicit programming, self-organization with selection operates on dynamic constitutional diversity in response to either internal or external factors to achieve adaptation.

The merging of the features: -information and programmability, -dynamics and reversibility, -constitution and structural diversity, points to the emergence of adaptive and evolutive chemistry, towards a chemistry of complex matter.