What is it about?

We introduce a new way of designing patchy colloidal particle interactions such that specific polyhedral shells are formed, while avoiding competing structures. This is done by casting the assembly process as a boolean satisfiability problem (SAT). We also provide general rules that can guide the system towards more successful assemblies.

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Why is it important?

At the micro scale, thermal fluctuations can drive the self-assembly of colloidal particles into polyhedral shells. On the other hand, the assembly process can be blocked by the formation of irregular clusters that are much different from the one preferred. We introduce a new mechanism that allows us to automatically design how particles interact such that these irregular clusters are avoided. Thus, leading to a more predictable assembly process.


Given the unpredictability of self-assembly at the micro scale, our method stands as an outlier as a predicting tool. It's simple, easy to use, and is versatile such that it can be used to tackle vastly different assembly structures. I hope the we have highlighted these qualities in our research and motivate others to explore more of this vast world at the micro scale.

Diogo Pinto
Universita degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Design strategies for the self-assembly of polyhedral shells, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2219458120.
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