Symmetry breaking via amplifying autocatalysis probed by microflow engineering

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Chemistry


The understanding of chiral chemistry breaking in autocatalytic reactions may hold important clues about the origin and evolution of biological homochirality and has numerous potential applications, ranging from the understanding of disease pathways to structuring supramolecular assemblies. Despite much progress in mechanistic reaction models assisted by careful batch experimentation, the effect of reagent mixing and flow has never been considered and may have a major impact on reaction population outcomes. The advent of microfluidic reactors and novel homogenization strategies provides a unique opportunity to study such effects in details with unprecedented reproducibility and exquisite flow control. We therefore seek to investigate symmetry breaking in the autocatalytic Soai reaction in solvent-resistant microdevices assisted by detailed numerical modelling of spatiotemporal reaction evolution under flow. We expect our high-throughput microfluidic approach, combined with conventional batch experimentation and detailed modelling to help elucidate the mechanisms underlying the evolution of homochirality in the Soai reaction carried out without a chiral symmetry-breaking source.


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