Chemical reaction motifs driving non-equilibrium behaviours in phase separating materials

Dino Osmanović, Elisa Franco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Chemical reactions that couple to systems that phase separate have been implicated in diverse contexts from biology to materials science. However, how a particular set of chemical reactions (chemical reaction network, CRN) would affect the behaviours of a phase separating system is difficult to fully predict theoretically. In this paper, we analyse a mean field theory coupling CRNs to a combined system of phase separating and non-phase separating materials and analyse how the properties of the CRNs affect different classes of non-equilibrium behaviour: microphase separation or temporally oscillating patterns. We examine the problem of achieving microphase separated condensates by statistical analysis of the Jacobians, of which the most important motifs are negative feedback of the phase separating component and combined inhibition/activation by the non-phase separating components. We then identify CRN motifs that are likely to yield microphase by examining randomly generated networks and parameters. Molecular sequestration of the phase separating motif is shown to be the most robust towards yielding microphase separation. Subsequently, we find that dynamics of the phase separating species is promoted most easily by inducing oscillations in the diffusive components coupled to the phase separating species. Our results provide guidance towards the design of CRNs that manage the formation, dissolution and organization of compartments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20230117
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number208
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


  • chemical reaction networks
  • phase separation
  • reaction–diffusion


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