A molecular view of DNA-conjugated nanoparticle association energies
Nanoparticles functionalized with short sequences of DNA represent a promising platform for customizable self assembly. Though much recent research has focused on the phase behavior and assembly of these structures, little has been done to precisely characterize the pairwise interaction between particles. Here we present a detailed calculation of the association between DNA–nanoparticle conjugates using 3SPN.2, a coarse-grained model of DNA that accounts for molecular structure and base-pairing. We compare our results to those obtained experimentally using μm sized particles and analyze the free energy surfaces that characterize interparticle hybridization. Next, we study the importance of three-body effects and their impact on particle association and melting. Lastly, we explore the observation by Park et al. [Nature, 451, 553 (2008)] that DNA–nanoparticle crystallization can be inhibited by the deletion of a single nucleotide. Using our model, we suggest that the role of this nucleotide is to disrupt frustration.