Self-Assembling of Nonadditive Mixtures Containing Patchy Particles with Tunable Interactions

IQ Matos and FA Escobedo, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B, 127, 8982-8992 (2023).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.3c05302

Mixtures of nanoparticles (NPs) with hybridizing grafted DNA or DNA-like strands have been of particular interest because of the tunable selectivity provided for the interactions between the NP components. A richer self-assembly behavior would be accessible if these NP-NP interactions could be designed to give nonadditive mixing (in analogy to the case of molecular components). Nonadditive mixing occurs when the mixed-state volume is smaller (negative) or larger (positive) than the sum of the individual components' volumes. However, instances of nonadditivity in colloidal/NP mixtures are rare, and systematic studies of such mixtures are nonexistent. This work focuses on patchy NPs whose patches (coarsely representing grafted hybridizing DNA strands) not only encode selectivity across components but also impart a tunable nonadditivity by varying their extent of protrusion. To guide the exploration of the relationship between phase behavior and nonadditivity for different patches' designs, the NP-NP potential of mean force (PMF) and a nonadditive parameter were first calculated. For one-patch NPs, different lamellar morphologies were predominantly observed. In contrast, for mixtures of two-patch NPs and (fully grafted) spherical particles, a rich phase behavior was found depending on patch-patch angle and degree of nonadditivity, resulting in phases such as the gyroid, cylinder, honeycomb, and two-layered crystal. Our results also show that both minimum positive nonadditivity and multivalent interactions are necessary for the formation of ordered network mesophases in the class of models studied.

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