This is my first question here so, please, bear with me if I go out of the style or the scope of the SE section. I think I am quite new here, so I am prone to make mistakes.
I am a molecular biologist (not a chemist, that's why I really don't know where to look for references) who wants to know more about the field of very complex chemistry-I mean the possible real experimental designs producing an increase in the number, size and network topology (as a measure of organization) of the chemical system in question. My primarily research interests have been (and still are) in the fields of theoretical, system and synthetic biology with implications for the origins of life so I could say I'm pretty aware of all the progress going on with our attempts of replicating the processes occurring in the living cells and to synthesize "artificial living organisms" related to biology. But what I'm not very aware of (because I'm not a chemist and don't know all the possible places I could look for) are other chemical reaction systems which could possibly lead to complex self-organizing behaviour. By these words I mean reactions able to produce molecules of increased dimensions (both in size and molecular weight), increased number of different reaction products (e.g. reactions generating diversity) and reaction networks able to produce increased organization between the reactions participating in them (e.g. reactions the products of which can interact with each other and form new reaction networks among themselves and even their reaction products can repeat the process generating an increase in the relationships among the reactions of the network).
I am aware of complex self-catalyzing reactions like the Belousov-Zhabotinski's reaction which are far from equilibrium but my point here isn't "only" to generate a system out of equilibrium but to understand what chemicals ("real-world" chemicals we know exist, not some hypothetical compounds we design for our needs in computer database) could potentially form a network of self-organizing reactions which can replicate and enlarge itself if given enough "raw materials". I'm not talking here about replicating biological molecules, In fact the point of my question is can such "self-organizing" networks be created with chemicals that have nothing to od with biomolecules? Can we (even in theory) use some other class (or classes) of organic molecules that could form complex interactions among themselves able to produce a network able to replicate (and even diversify) itself given enough "raw materials", e.g. substrates? Have any such experiments been done (or at least proposed) for any class of molecules different than the biomolecules we know today?
In short, can we use any class (or classes) of organic molecules to design "artificial biochemistry" and has anybody in the chemical literature explored (or even only proposed) such options? Is there any papers (in journals specialized in only in chemistry) exploring (or even only just mentioning) the idea for any particular chemicals (or interactions among classes of chemicals) you are aware of? Has such research ever been done and if so which chemicals it explored? To be as concise as possible has any chemist in any journal ever tried to propose the idea of building an "artificial biochemistry" of any kind?
Thank you very much.