Zachariasen Memorial Lecture

3:30–4:30 pm Maria Goeppert-Mayer Lecture Hall

Information and Algorithms in Molecular Self-Assembly

Erik Winfree, Caltech

To understand biology, the cell, and ourselves, we must understand how information — such as that stored in DNA — can control the self-organization of matter.  Looking for fundamental principles, we focus on the remarkable ability of molecules to spontaneously create order from disorder via the process of crystallization.  Crystalline order has been described by diffraction patterns, symmetry groups, and geometrical tiling theory.  More so than the other approaches, tiling theory enables fascinating generalizations beyond periodic order, including connections to computation and algorithmic order.  Furthermore, DNA nanotechnology provides a means to implement and experimentally explore the design space for molecular self-assembly based on tiling theory and related kinetic models.  These studies illustrate how algorithmic phenomena can be embedded within even the simplest and most natural of molecular processes — a potential that evolution certainly had the opportunity to exploit.

Event Type

Colloquia and Lectures

May 11