The Sciences

Autonomously Moving Colloidal Objects that Resemble Living Matter

Cosmic VarianceBy Sean CarrollNov 18, 2010 1:01 PM

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That's the name of a new paper by Akihisa Shioi, Takahiko Ban, and Youichi Morimune. Abstract:

The design of autonomously moving objects that resemble living matter is an excellent research topic that may develop into various applications of functional motion. Autonomous motion can demonstrate numerous significant characteristics such as transduction of chemical potential into work without heat, chemosensitive motion, chemotactic and phototactic motions, and pulse-like motion with periodicities responding to the chemical environment. Sustainable motion can be realized with an open system that exchanges heat and matter across its interface. Hence the autonomously moving object has a colloidal scale with a large specific area. This article reviews several examples of systems with such characteristics that have been studied, focusing on chemical systems containing amphiphilic molecules.

The journal is called Entropy, which I love. The paper discusses a variety of different systems that can travel, wiggle around, and respond to stimuli in ways that resemble living organisms. Not exactly building life in a test tube, but the boundary grows increasingly blurry.

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