Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Self-Propulsion Promotes Polymerization

Version 1 : Received: 5 January 2020 / Approved: 5 January 2020 / Online: 5 January 2020 (14:39:19 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Aldana, M.; Fuentes-Cabrera, M.; Zumaya, M. Self-Propulsion Enhances Polymerization. Entropy 2020, 22, 251. Aldana, M.; Fuentes-Cabrera, M.; Zumaya, M. Self-Propulsion Enhances Polymerization. Entropy 2020, 22, 251.


Self-assembly is a spontaneous process through which macroscopic structures are formed from basic microscopic constituents (e.g. molecules or colloids). By contrast, the formation of large biological molecules inside the cell (such as proteins or nucleic acids) is a process more akin to self-organization than to self-assembly, as it requires a constant supply of external energy. Recent studies have tried to merge self-assembly with self-organization by analyzing the assembly of self-propelled (or active) colloid-like particles whose motion is driven by a permanent source of energy. Here we present evidence that points to the fact that self-propulsion considerably enhances the assembly of polymers: self-propelled molecules are found to assemble into polymer-like structures, the average length of which increases towards a maximum as the self-propulsion force increases. Beyond this maximum, the average polymer length decreases due to the competition between bonding energy and disruptive forces that result from collisions. The assembly of active molecules might have promoted the formation of large pre-biotic polymers that could be the precursors of the informational polymers we observe nowadays.


self-propulsion; self-organization; polymerization; prebiotic molecules


Physical Sciences, Condensed Matter Physics

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