Conference by Jean-Marie LEHN. Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1987

Palais des Congrès

The evolution of the universe has generated increasingly complex forms of matter, up to living and thinking matter, through self-organization. Animated matter like inanimate matter, living organisms as well as materials, are made up of molecules and organized groups resulting from the interaction of molecules with each other. Chemistry builds the bridge between the molecules of inanimate matter and the highly complex molecular systems that make up living organisms.

Molecular chemistry has developed a set of very powerful methods for the construction of ever more sophisticated molecules. Supramolecular chemistry has set itself the goal of building assemblies of molecules by means of interactions between partners. The spontaneous formation of organized architectures is based on the implementation of information at the molecular level, in a kind of molecular programming, which thus establishes a link between chemistry and information science. It forms the basis of the capacity for self-organization which has brought matter to life. The field of chemistry is the universe of all molecular species and all possible transformations of matter. Those actually present in nature form only one world among all the possible worlds waiting to be created. Conceptual considerations on chemistry and science in general will be presented.