Multifunctionality and aperiodicity are two generic features that nature employs for pattern recognition. Can these features also be exploited such that similar behavior is exhibited by abiotic systems? We find that random heteropolymers, a class of synthetic polymers that embody multifunctionality and disorder, can recognize multifunctional disordered surfaces when the statistics characterizing the sequence and surface site distributions are related in a particular way. Some implications of this new notion of recognition due to statistical pattern matching for viral inhibition and chromatography are discussed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding provided by NSF, U.S.D.O.E. (AC) and NIH (EIS). Stimulating discussions with Professor David Chandler and Professor George Whitesides are gratefully acknowledged.