A self-replicating monolayer system employing polymerization of monomers or nanoparticle ensembles on a defined template provides synthesis of two-dimensional single molecule polymers. Systems of self-replicating monolayers are used as templates for growth of inorganic colloids. A preferred embodiment employs SAM-based replication, wherein an initial monolayer is patterned and used as a template for self-assembly of a second monolayer by molecular recognition. The second monolayer is polymerized in place and the monolayers are separated to form a replicate. Both may then function as templates for monolayer assemblies. A generic self-replicating monomer unit comprises a polymerizable moiety attached by methylene repeats to a recognition element and an ending unit that will not interfere with the chosen recognition chemistry. The recognition element is self-complementary, unless two replicating monomers with compatible cross-linking chemistry are employed. After replication, selective mineralization and/or electroless plating may produce a two-dimensional inorganic sheet having patterned domains within it.