PIMS/CSC Distinguished Speaker Series: Dr. Michael Brenner

  • Date: 02/24/2012
Dr. Michael Brenner (Harvard University)

Simon Fraser University


Towards the principles of self assembly



Self assembly is the idea of creating a system whose component parts spontaneously assemble into a structure of interest. In biological systems, there are striking examples where complicated structures (ie the bacterial ribosome) can spontaneously assemble, presumably with high yield, driven by specific interactions between the components. But how can systems be designed to have this property? How should interactions be chosen to promote the assembly of a particular structure? Should bonds be chosen to be reversible or irreversible? Given a set of design rules, can all structures be built with high yield? Or are some structures more designable than others?


Recent technological advances have created the opportunity for making natural and technologically relevant systems that self assemble, by e.g. coating colloidal particles with stickers (e.g., DNA) so that every particle interacts with every other particle in a different way. We will discuss how self assembly works in this system, through theory, numerical simulation and experiment -- and start to speculate as to whether resulting principles might be useful for unravelling the rules of biological self assembly.


Reception: 2:30 pm at IRMACS Atriumlecture: 3:30 pm at IRMACS Theatre

Other Information: 

For more information please visit SFU Mathematics Department