Programmed self-replication and life-cycles of microchip swarming protocells

Conference Date
Lyon, France
Date Published
September 2017
Conference Date: 2017, Vol. 14, Pages 189-189.
(doi: 10.7551/ecal_a_033)
© 2017 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license
Article PDF (1.21 MB)

We simulate the dynamics of silicon microchips of size 100x100 μm2 with active electronic sensing and actuation reacting in a chemical environment. As the microchips can both excrete chemicals and follow chemical gradients they can self-organize into swarms. As the chip swarm generates a well-defined concentration profile, a steady state structure balancing production, diffusion and decay, we may interpret the microchip swarm as a protocellular container without walls. The protocellular information controls are programmed into the individual chip’s finite state-machine. The energy stored by the chip’s supercapacitor drives the metabolism, which maintains the swarm and a well-defined local chemical environment. For each chip the onboard energy is used to power the control of chemical reaction, the motility as well as the internal finite state machine. With this physics-based simulation, we demonstrate self-replication control dynamics and resource feeding, and we develop a sustained replication life cycle for hybrid protocell populations composed of swarming microchip in a chemical reaction diffusion field.