Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

2011 Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, Ricardo Amils, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII, William M. Irvine, Daniele L. Pinti, Michel Viso

Self Assembly

  • Roderich Groß
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-11274-4_1421



Computation, formation, pattern, structure


Self-assembly is the process by which preexisting components (separate or distinct parts of a disordered structure) autonomously organize into patterns or structures without external intervention.


Self-assembly processes are responsible for the generation of much of the order in nature (Philp and Stoddart 1996; Whitesides and Grzybowski 2002). They involve components at different scales, such as molecules, cells, and organisms. The characteristics of the components control how they interact with each other and thus the patterns and structures that emerge. The components must be mobile, being either externally propelled or self-propelled. In many self-assembly systems, the components selectively bind to, or selectively disband from, each other. Such selective binding regulates, for instance, the replication of genetic information in the assembly of the DNA double helix. Self-assembly...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Anderson C, Theraulaz G, Deneubourg J-L (2002) Self-assemblages in insect societies. Insect Soc 49:99–110Google Scholar
  2. Caspar DLD (1966) Design principles in organized biological structures. In: Wolstenholme GEW, O’Connor M (eds) Principles of biomolecular organization. J&A Churchill, London, pp 7–39Google Scholar
  3. Groß R, Dorigo M (2008) Self-assembly at the macroscopic scale. Proc IEEE 96:1490–1508Google Scholar
  4. Philp D, Stoddart JF (1996) Self-assembly in natural and unnatural systems. Angew Chem Int Edit 35:1154–1196Google Scholar
  5. Sendova-Franks AB, Franks NR (1999) Self-assembly, self-organization and division of labour. Philos Trans R Soc B 354:1395–1405Google Scholar
  6. Whitesides GM, Boncheva M (2002) Beyond molecules: self-assembly of mesoscopic and macroscopic components. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 99:4769–4774ADSGoogle Scholar
  7. Whitesides GM, Grzybowski B (2002) Self-assembly at all scales. Science 295:2418–2421ADSGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Automatic Control & Systems EngineeringThe University of SheffieldSheffieldUnited Kingdom