PerspectiveMaterials Science

Droplets Out of Equilibrium

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Science  19 Jul 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6143, pp. 243-244
DOI: 10.1126/science.1241793

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Summary

Living systems create structures and functions of remarkable complexity by mastering self-assembly in different equilibrium and nonequilibrium states. Three states can be distinguished: equilibrium, nondissipative nonequilibrium (or kinetically trapped), and dissipative (or dynamic) nonequilibrium. On page 253 of this issue, Timonen et al. (1) report on a model system in which all three states are accessible (see the figure) and show how this leads to a range of well-ordered structures.