Molecular Replication Process Drives Supramolecular Polymerization

  • Polymers are useful but have several flaws. They are based on covalent bonds, which one destroyed cannot be reassembled easily.
  • Supramolecular polymers use noncovalent bonds to form polymers which are capable of self-healing
  • Quadruple hydrogen bonding is one mechanism for supramolecular polymers
  • Secondary reactions based on proximity hydrogen bonding contribute to the structural design for these molecules
  • DNA replication relies on hydrogen bonding between nucleotides
  • A minimal model of self-replication is being developed by Yuanning’s group, using autocatalysis
  • This is essentially a ‘synthetic DNA’ process, minus several features
  • Diffusion-ordered spectroscopy nuclear magnetic resonance (DOSY NMR) was used to characterize the reaction progression
  • X-Ray diffraction and Scanning Electron Microscopy was used to characterize the output microcrystallites
  • This proof of concept can be used later to help design molecular machines


  • Further collaboration with physicists or biologists to help solve the logic of designing a complex self-replicating polymerization system.