Autocatalysis is a key phenomenon for the origin of life. Autocatalysis allows complex, information reach molecules, to proliferate and, thus, overcomes a core problem in understanding of the origin of life – that is dilution. We have two research directions: (i) development/discovery of new autocatalytic systems based on simple organic building blocks (e.g. nitriles, alkynes, aldehydes, etc.) and transition metals; (ii) study of chemical evolution in the recently developed thiols autocatalytic reaction.
Science quickly progressed in the direction of synthesis and characterization of nanoscale objects. Nevertheless, controlling their temporal behavior and interaction with each other and with environment on the level comparable with living matter remains a major challenge. The control of the matter at the nanoscale, especially its temporal behaviors, requires regulation by information processing circuits (signaling system). In most machines, regulation is achieved by microelectronic and mechanical control systems, but we can’t scale down these control systems to dimensions of nano-objects. Hence, we need chemical regulation similar to those found in cell.
Life is out-of-equilibrium phenomena, that is chemical reactions in the cell are constantly fueled by reactants and products are constantly removed. Out-of-equilibrium conditions are necessary to display functions (e.g., chemotaxis, temporal regulations of cell cycle and day/night cycle) that are based on communication between chemical reactions, diffusion, and self-assembly. Yet, feeding possesses a serious challenge.