Tales of Emerging Complexity: from Self-Assembly to Self-Replication
Alexei Tkachenko, Brookhaven National Laboratory

Self-assembly is a key  phenomenon in  living matter, and at the same time,  a booming field of  modern material science and engineering. In my talk I will review emerging  trends and ideas in this field, and give theorist's perspective on its conceptual challenges.  I will discuss the strategy of  programmable self-assembly  that uses molecular recognition properties of DNA to build nano- and micro-scale building blocks  with designed  pairwise interactions.  This approach opens an entirely  new class of theoretical problems in statistical physics.  Instead of studying phenomenology of a large system of  particles with  given properties, we must solve the inverse problem:  finding the interactions that would result in a self-assembly of a desired macroscopic or mesoscopic morphology. I will start with a discussion of self-assembly in a very simple  binary system of spherical particles, and gradually move towards a greater complexity of both the building blocks and the resulting structures. Eventually, from the problem of programmable self assembly we will shift to a pursue of the simplest  system capable of self-replication and Darwinian Evolution.  
" This research used resources of the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, which is a U.S. DOE Office of Science Facility, at Brookhaven National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-SC0012704"