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About us Practical matters 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.


Binding of Precursors to Replicator Assemblies Can Improve Replication Fidelity and Mediate Error Correction

Generalist versus Specialist Self-Replicators

Collectively autocatalytic sets

Enantioselective Self-Replicators

Light-driven eco-evolutionary dynamics in a synthetic replicator system

(Re-)Directing Oligomerization of a Single Building Block into Two Specific Dynamic Covalent Foldamers through pH

Tailorable and Biocompatible Supramolecular-Based Hydrogels Featuring two Dynamic Covalent Chemistries

An Approach to the De Novo Synthesis of Life

An Optical Probe for Real-Time Monitoring of Self-Replicator Emergence and Distinguishing between Replicators

Emergent Catalysis by Self-Replicating Molecules

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