Spontaneous Growth and Division in Self-Reproducing Inorganic Colloidosomes

Mei Li, Xin Huang, Stephen Mann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

45 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Self-reproduction in compartmentalized chemical ensembles is a central issue for the development of new materials and processes capable of autonomous behavior, self-amplification and artificial evolution. Current approaches to synthetic cellularity focus primarily on self-assembled soft matter systems such as membrane-bounded lipid vesicles, which have sufficient structural plasticity to undergo growth and division. Steps towards inorganic protocells are being advanced, but self-reproduction in these more structurally robust micro-compartments has not been demonstrated. Here, a primitive form of growth and division involving inorganic colloidosomes (Pickering emulsions), comprising aqueous micro-droplets enclosed by an ultrathin membrane of silica nanoparticles, is shown. Growth of the colloidosomes is induced by organosilane-mediated methanol formation, and results in a localized rupture of the inorganic membrane followed by outgrowth and separation of a second-generation protocell, which is stabilized by de novo nanoparticle assembly. These observations provide a first step towards synthetic cell-like inorganic materials capable of chemically induced self-reproduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3291-3298
Number of pages8
JournalSmall
Volume10
Issue number16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2014

Keywords

  • BIOINORGANIC PROTOCELLS
  • ENZYME CATALYSIS
  • GIANT VESICLES
  • MINIMAL CELLS
  • COMPETITION
  • MEMBRANES
  • SYSTEMS
  • POLYMER
  • DRIVEN
  • MODELS

Projects

Protolife-inspired materials chemistry

Mann, S.

23/06/1422/06/17

Project: Research

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