Examples of chemical systems capable of templating and catalysing their own synthesis - self-replicating systems -have begun to appear in the chemical literature over the last 15 years. For the biologist, these systems represent a link with the origin of life - their study can shed light on prebiotic chemical evolution. However, for the synthetic chemist, they represent the ultimate synthetic machine, capable of templating the production of a large number of perfect copies of themselves from a single original molecule. In this Review, we describe the design and synthesis of synthetic minimal replicating systems and provide a general overview and critique of the field.
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