Emergence of order in nanoparticle assemblies by exploiting building block anisotropy

PHYS 152

Sharon C. Glotzer, sglotzer@umich.edu, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan, 2300 Hayward Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2136
Nanocolloids hold tremendous promise for a range of applications, provided they can be assembled into useful structures and materials optimized for desired properties. How to design and fabricate nanocolloids for self-assembly into complex structures with emergent collective properties remains a fundamental challenge. As examples, diamond, gyroid, and quasicrystalline structures have desirable photonic band gaps, but as yet nanoparticle-based materials with these structures remain a challenge for fabrication. Here we take a simulation-based approach to materials design and exploit both forward and inverse approaches to nanoparticle assembly, incorporating elements of both positive and negative design. By exploiting anisotropy at the level of individual building blocks, we elucidate the necessary design elements for assembling these and other complex nanostructures, including chiral structures, ordered sheets, precision micelles, polyhedral shells and "holey" lamellar structures from nanocolloids. We discuss the use of "anisotropy dimensions" as an organizing framework for building block design and assembly.