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How to find us prof. dr. S. (Sijbren) Otto

Research interests

Our research is focused on Systems Chemistry and in particular on complex mixtures of synthetic molecules that can interconvert as well as interact noncovalently. Such mixtures constitute networks that can transmit molecular information. New properties can be expected to emerge from molecules acting in concert that are relevant to understanding how Nature evolved its complex molecular networks and, ultimately, to the origins of life. Furthermore, once we have learned how to design and control complex molecular systems, we should be able to design new functions complementary to those encountered in Nature, and eventually we should be able to synthesize life de-novo.

We are particularly interested in self-replicating molecules, foldamers (synthetic oliomeric molecules that adopt well-defined conformations), catalysis, molecular recognition of (among others) biomacromolecules with synthetic platforms, self-assembly of materials, including hydrogels.

The overarching aim of our work is the de-novo synthesis of life. We are pursuing the integration of our self-replicating systems with metabolism and compartmentalization and aim to operate the systems in a replication-destruction regime allowing them to undergo Darwinian evolution.


Automated device for continuous stirring while sampling in liquid chromatography systems

Caught in the Act: Mechanistic Insight into Supramolecular Polymerization-Driven Self-Replication from Real-Time Visualization

Competition dynamics in a chemical system of self-replicating macrocycles

Emergence of light-driven protometabolism on recruitment of a photocatalytic cofactor by a self-replicator

Spontaneous Emergence of Self-Replicating Molecules Containing Nucleobases and Amino Acids

Complex Molecules That Fold Like Proteins Can Emerge Spontaneously

Cross-Catalysis between Self-Replicators of Different Handedness

Emergence of Compartments Formed from Unconventional Surfactants in Dynamic Combinatorial Libraries

Existing Self-Replicators Can Direct the Emergence of New Ones

Parasitic Behavior of Self-Replicating Molecules

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