Jean-Marie Lehn

From Supramolecular Chemistry towards Adaptive Chemistry

Thursday, 29 June 2000
14:30 - 15:00 hrs CEST


One of the major lines of development of chemical science in the coming century resides in the ever clearer perception, deeper analysis and more deliberate application of informing features in the elaboration and transformation of matter, thus tracing the path from merely condensed matter to more and more highly organized matter towards systems of increasing complexity.

A most basic and far-reaching contribution of supramolecular chemistry is the introduction and implementation in chemical science of the concept of molecular information and its corollaries, instructions and programmed chemical systems, with the aim of gaining progressive control over the organization of matter.

Supramolecular chemistry has thus paved the way towards apprehending chemistry as an information science. It has started and developed as the chemistry of the entities generated via intermolecular non-covalent interactions. By the appropriate manipulation of these interactions, it became progressively the chemistry of molecular information, involving the storage of information at the molecular level, in the structural features, and its retrieval, transfer, processing at the supramolecular level, through molecular recognition processes operating via specific interactional algorithms. It thus led to the definition of programmed chemical systems.

The combination of the features of supramulecular systems: - information and programmability, - dynamics and reversibility, - combinatorics and structural diversity, points towards the emergence of the concept of ADAPTIVE CHEMISTRY, which lies higher up the axis of complexity. Together with the corresponding fields of physics and biology, it constitutes a science of informed matter, of organized, complex, adaptive matter.

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