Nonequilibrium associative retrieval of multiple stored self-assembly targets

Gili Bisker, Jeremy L. England*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many biological systems rely on the ability to self-assemble different target structures using the same set of components. Equilibrium self-assembly suffers from a limited capacity in such cases, due to an increasing number of decoy states that grows rapidly with the number of targets encoded. Moreover, improving the kinetic stability of a target at equilibrium carries the price of introducing kinetic traps, leading to slower assembly. Using a toy physical model of interacting particles, we demonstrate that local driving can improve both the assembly time and kinetic stability of multitarget self-assembly, as well as reduce fluctuations around the target configuration. We further show that the local drive can result in a steady-state probability distribution over target structures that deviates from the Boltzmann distribution in a way that depends on the types of interactions that stabilize the targets. Our results illustrate the role that nonequilibrium driving plays in overcoming tradeoffs that are inherent to equilibrium assemblies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E10531-E10538
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number45
StatePublished - 6 Nov 2018


  • Local driving
  • Nonequilibrium self-assembly
  • Self-healing
  • Stored structures


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