A wide variety of living materials consist mainly of aqueous solutions containing different solutes and macromolecules. The assembly of building blocks in aqueous environments results in small units, such as membraneless organelles, as well as large biological tissues and organs. Nature has demonstrated the power to synthesize, fabricate and construct complicated functional materials in mild aqueous and isothermal conditions, in a way that materials scientists and engineers have yet to achieve. For instance, membraneless organelles can be formed in aqueous solutions. Complicated membranes can be assembled from lipids and proteins, achieving excellent control over the transport of molecules into and out of biological cells A more comprehensive understanding of the science and mechanisms behind these processes will inspire cytomimetic approaches to synthesize new materials, creating opportunities to engineer more complex hierarchical structures.
The exploration into aqueous cytomimetic strategies may start with investigations into the physical processes, such as aqueous phase separation, that are essential for forming relatively simple organelles in biological systems. Aqueous two-phase systems (ATPS) have already demonstrated promises in enabling fabrication of new bio-materials and development of useful biotechnological techniques. The unique properties of the systems resulting from aqueous phase separation often demand new characterization tools. New cytomimetic chemical synthesis can be facilitated with good knowledge of the fluid dynamics and interfacial phenomena underlying the aqueous environments. Modern micro-engineering and microfluidic devices are also playing an increasingly important role in unraveling the mysteries behind aqueous cytomimetic systems and in controlling the assembly of building blocks, such as lipids and proteins in aqueous environments. This symposium will bring together researchers from different relevant disciplines and cover the complete range of topics including fundamentals, characterization, and applications.
Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary topics related to chemistry, physics, biomedical engineering, materials science and engineering will be organized into different sessions of invited abstracts. Therefore, participants can interact with experts from different areas to explore new avenues relevant to aqueous cytomimetic materials. In the closing session, the abstracts will focus on discussions as to how different disciplines can be integrated together for furthering the applications of aqueous cytomimetic materials.