Chapter 7

Self-Organization and Self-Assembly in Supramolecular Systems

‘Amoebas at the start’

‘Were not complex;’

‘They tore themselves apart’

‘And started Sex.’

Arthur Guiterman

7.1 Supramolecular Assembly: Towards Molecular Devices

The great diversity of electronic circuits results from the many assembly combinations using a small number of simple, universal components. A large number of diodes, transistors, resistors, capacitors and inductors combined together may work as a computer, mobile phone, TV or GPS navigator, depending on the way the basic elements are wired together. Nowadays these simple elements are usually not discrete, but most are incorporated into larger circuits fabricated on a single piece of silicon, that is an integrated circuit. These modern functional elements can in turn be wired together into more complex circuits leading to a multi-level hierarchic architecture. All other devices and machines are also assembled from many parts. Each of these parts or electronic elements can exist independently of the device and their functions are determined by the way they are combined with other components [1, 2]. The same applies to natural information processing units, that is the brains and peripheral nervous systems of all animals. Different types of neurons communicate with each other within functional structures in brain, while high-level communication between these cortical modules takes place as well [3–6]. While electronic devices are assembled by humans ...

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