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submitted on 15.10.2019 and posted on 21.10.2019by Nishant Singh, Bruno Lainer, Georges Formon, Serena De Piccoli, Thomas Hermans
Nature uses catalysis as an indispensable tool to control assembly and reaction cycles in vital non-equilibrium supramolecular processes. For instance, enzymatic methionine oxidation regulates actin (dis)assembly, and catalytic guanosine triphosphate hydrolysis is found in tubulin (dis)assembly. Here we present a completely artificial reaction cycle which is driven by a chemical fuel that is catalytically obtained from a ‘pre-fuel’. The reaction cycle controls the disassembly and re-assembly of a hydrogel, where the rate of pre-fuel turnover dictates the morphology as well as the mechanical properties. By adding additional fresh aliquots of fuel and removing waste, the hydrogels can be re-programmed time after time. Overall, we show how catalysis can control fuel generation to control reaction / assembly kinetics and materials properties in life-like non-equilibrium systems.