A team of scientists are working on a project which will see them try to create life from evolving inorganic chemicals cells that could be used in medicine and chemistry.
A paper, Modular Redox-Active Inorganic Chemical Cells iCHELLs, by the team is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
The group, led by Professor Lee Cronin, are from Glasgow University's College of Science and Engineering and have recently demonstrated a new way of making inorganic chemical cell.
"One of my longstanding research goals is to understand how life emerged on planet Earth and recreate the process," says Cronin.
"Working out how nanoparticles are built is key to developing new 'intelligent materials', electronic devices, and understanding the biomachinery that operates in living cells."
While we know that life on earth is based on organic biology in the form of carbon, academics insist the inorganic world is considered to be inanimate but the new project is set to shed a new light on the inorganic world.
"What we are trying do is create self-replicating, evolving, inorganic cells that would essentially be alive. You could call it inorganic biology," Cronin said.
The project consist in finding out if inorganic chemical cell can be compartmentalised by creating internal membranes that control the passage of materials and energy through them, enabling several chemical processes to be isolated within the same cell and act just like biological cells.
Should the process be successful, it could provide scientists with more insights into evolution and demonstrate it is not only a biological process.
Researchers say the cells, which can also store electricity, could potentially be used in all sorts of applications in medicine, as sensors or to confine chemical reactions.
The research is part of a project by Cronin to demonstrate that inorganic chemical compounds are capable of self-replicating and evolving -- just as organic, biological carbon-based cells do.
Cronin believes that creating inorganic life is possible, adding "The grand aim is to construct complex chemical cells with lifelike properties that could help us understand how life emerged and also to use this approach to define a new technology based upon evolution in the material world - a kind of inorganic living technology.
"Bacteria are essentially single-cell micro-organisms made from organic chemicals, so why can't we make micro-organisms from inorganic chemicals and allow them to evolve?
"If successful this would give us some incredible insights into evolution and show that it's not just a biological process. It would also mean that we would have proven that non-carbon-based life could exist and totally redefine our ideas of design."