We are interested in developing chemistry that introduces life-like behavior in synthetic matter.

Synthetic materials as we use them nowadays are typically inactive and limited to just one function. Living materials however follow a completely different approach, and sense what happens in their environment, adapt to changing circumstances and even reorganize themselves to perform multiple tasks. For example, trees start growing their leaves when a new season begins, and slime molds grow long wires toward places where food is available.

Interestingly, all this behavior is programmed in the molecular building blocks of life, and the chemistry among them. In our lab, we try to implement this life-like behavior into synthetic materials, such that they perform complex operations in response to their environment - for example motion, growth or shape-transformation. Thereby, we aim to open entirely new possibilities in a next generation of intelligent matter.


These movies (↑) feature an example of our research: An amphiphile-based chemical system that spontaneously organizes into an interconnected network of self-assembled filaments and floating droplets. We aim at molecular information processing through these self-assembling wires that “guide” molecular inputs along adaptive pathways amongst sender and receiver agents. Ultimately, these molecular signals will dictate, via chemical reactions, molecular assembly and (physico)chemical feedback mechanisms, how the network self-organizes to generate functional behavior: Imagine for example self-organizing device interfaces that “determine” the path for a sample in lab-on-a-chip applications, or neuromorphic sensors that analyze complex molecular input and generate optical read-outs that can easily be classified.

Recent key publications:

'Autonomous mesoscale positioning emerging from myelin filament self-organization and Marangoni flows', Arno van der Weijden, Mitch Winkens, Sandra M. C. Schoenmakers, Wilhelm T. S. Huck & Peter A. Korevaar, Nature Communications, 11, 4800 (2020)

'Complexity emerges from chemistry', Helena S. Azevedo, Sarah L. Perry, Peter A. Korevaar & Dibyendu Das, Nature Chemistry, 12, 793–794 (2020)

'Non-equilibrium signal integration in hydrogels', Peter A. Korevaar, C. Nadir Kaplan, Alison Grinthal, Reanne M. Rust & Joanna Aizenberg, Nature Communications, 11, 386 (2020)

'Self-sustained Marangoni flows driven by chemical reactions', Anne-Déborah C. Nguindjel & Peter A. Korevaar, ChemSystemsChem, 3, e2100021 (2021)

'Self-Organization Emerging from Marangoni and Elastocapillary Effects Directed by Amphiphile Filament Connections', Mitch Winkens & Peter A. Korevaar, Langmuir, 38, 10799−10809 (2022)

'Spatial programming of self-organizing chemical systems using sustained physicochemical gradients from reaction, diffusion and hydrodynamics', Anne-Déborah Nguindjel*, Pieter J. de Visser*, M. Winkens* & Peter A. Korevaar, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 24, 23980 (2022). *equal contribution