Towards heterotic computing with droplets in a fully automated droplet-maker platform

Alon Henson, Juan Manuel Parrilla Gutierrez, Trevor Hinkley, Soichiro Tsuda, Leroy Cronin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


The control and prediction of complex chemical systems is a difficult problem due to the nature of the interactions, transformations and processes occurring. From self-assembly to catalysis and self-organization, complex chemical systems are often heterogeneous mixtures that at the most extreme exhibit system-level functions, such as those that could be observed in a living cell. In this paper, we outline an approach to understand and explore complex chemical systems using an automated droplet maker to control the composition, size and position of the droplets in a predefined chemical environment. By investigating the spatio-temporal dynamics of the droplets, the aim is to understand how to control system-level emergence of complex chemical behaviour and even view the system-level behaviour as a programmable entity capable of information processing. Herein, we explore how our automated droplet-maker platform could be viewed as a prototype chemical heterotic computer with some initial data and example problems that may be viewed as potential chemically embodied computations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20140221
Number of pages10
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2046
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2015


  • chemical evolution
  • unconventional computation
  • complex chemical systems
  • chemical robotics
  • programmable morphogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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