Self-assembly is the process by which an organized structure spontaneously forms from individual components, as a result of specific, local interactions among the components. When the constitutive components are molecules, the process is termed molecular self-assembly.

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research
    | Open Access

    The development of complex molecular machinery requires a detailed appreciation of the factors that control energy pathways through the nanoscale scaffold. Here, the authors demonstrate that hetero-rotaxanes can be employed to create assemblies of different redox and photo-active components that enable selective tuning of energy transfer pathways.

    • Nicholas Pearce
    • , Katherine E. A. Reynolds
    •  & Neil R. Champness
  • Research
    | Open Access

    Neocarcerand Octacid4 can assemble with small molecule guests at room temperature to produce irreversible noncovalent bimolecular complexes, but the nature of the self-assembly pathway remains poorly understood. Here, the author uses unrestricted, unbiased molecular dynamics simulations to capture 81 distinct Octacid4•guest self-assembly pathways, revealing that interactions at the exterior of Octacid4’s cavity portal are key.

    • Yuan-Ping Pang
  • Research
    | Open Access

    Reversible assembly of supramolecular polymers renders these materials with healing and recycling properties but mechanical properties are often inferior to those of conventional plastics. Here, the authors demonstrate that strong and tough but healable materials can be accessed through the combination of metallosupramolecular polymers with complementary mechanical properties that feature the same metal-ligand complex as binding motif

    • Julien Sautaux
    • , Franziska Marx
    •  & Stephen Schrettl
  • Research |

    Symmetry breaking in colloidal crystals is achieved with DNA-grafted programmable atom equivalents and complementary electron equivalents, whose interactions are tuned to create anisotropic crystalline precursors with well-defined coordination geometries that assemble into distinct low-symmetry crystals.

    • Shunzhi Wang
    • , Sangmin Lee
    •  & Chad A. Mirkin
  • Reviews
    | Open Access

    Two-dimensional colloidal nanoplatelets can assemble into materials with promising optical properties, and the influence of local curvature on these properties is an area of active interest. Here, the relationship between nanoplatelet geometry, self-assembly, and collective properties is reviewed.

    • Lilian Guillemeney
    • , Laurent Lermusiaux
    •  & Benjamin Abécassis

News and Comment

  • News & Views |

    Why do bulky anions solubilize macromolecules in water but precipitate out the corresponding monomers? The answer lies in the differences in local water structure. Polymers have now been shown to disrupt water structure more than their monomers, leading to an accumulation of anions near the polymers that increases their solubility.

    • Aniket U. Thosar
    •  & Amish J. Patel
    Nature Chemistry 14, 8-10
  • Research Highlights |

    Cyanuric acid (CA) derivatives can co-assemble with polyadenine sequences to form a triple helical DNA-based structure bearing functional groups able to guide higher ordered architectures.

    • Colette Whitfield
  • News & Views |

    A new class of interwoven metal–organic containers, including one with a cubic architecture, twelve crossing points and a large internal volume, has now been reported. Interconversion between different self-assembled structures can be triggered by simply exchanging the associated anions.

    • Andrew W. Heard
    • , Natasha M. A. Speakman
    •  & Jonathan R. Nitschke
    Nature Chemistry 13, 824-826
  • Research Highlights |

    Researchers design DNA shells to trap virus particles and thus prevent interactions between viruses and host cells.

    • Lei Tang
    Nature Methods 18, 857
  • News & Views |

    Light-activated protein actuators composed of bioengineered motors and molecular scaffolds achieve millimetre-scale mechanical work, which holds promise for microrobotics applications.

    • Henry Hess
    Nature Materials 20, 1040-1041