The energy landscapes of bidisperse particle assemblies on a sphere

Abstract

The interplay between crystalline ordering, curvature, and size dispersity make the packing of bidisperse mixtures of particles on a sphere a varied and complex phenomenon. These structures have functional significance in a broad range of systems, such as cellular organisation in spherical epithelia, catalytic activity in binary colloidosomes, and chemical activity in heterofullerenes. In this contribution, we elucidate the potential energy landscapes for systems of repulsive, bidisperse particles confined to the surface of a sphere. It is commonly asserted that particle size dispersity destroys ordered arrangements, leading to glassy landscapes. Surprisingly, across a range of compositions, we find highly ordered global minima. Moreover, a minority of small particles is able to passivate defects, stabilising bidisperse global minima relative to monodisperse systems. However, our landscape analysis also reveals that bidispersity introduces numerous defective, low-lying states that are expected to cause broken ergodicity in corresponding experimental and computational systems. Probing the global minimum structures further, particle segregation is energetically preferred at intermediate compositions, contrasting with the approximate icosahedral global packing at either end of the composition range. Finally, changing the composition has a dramatic effect on the heat capacity: systems with low-symmetry global minima have melting temperatures an order of magnitude lower than monodisperse or high-symmetry systems. This observation may provide a further example of the principle of maximum symmetry: higher symmetry global minima exhibit a larger energy separation from the minima that define the high-entropy phase-like region of configuration space, raising the transition temperature.

Graphical abstract: The energy landscapes of bidisperse particle assemblies on a sphere

Article information

Article type
Paper
Submitted
05 Aug 2021
Accepted
13 Sep 2021
First published
15 Sep 2021
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY-NC license

Soft Matter, 2021, Advance Article

The energy landscapes of bidisperse particle assemblies on a sphere

A. F. Ballard, J. R. Panter and D. J. Wales, Soft Matter, 2021, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/D1SM01140E

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported Licence. You can use material from this article in other publications, without requesting further permission from the RSC, provided that the correct acknowledgement is given and it is not used for commercial purposes.

To request permission to reproduce material from this article in a commercial publication, please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

If you are an author contributing to an RSC publication, you do not need to request permission provided correct acknowledgement is given.

If you are the author of this article, you do not need to request permission to reproduce figures and diagrams provided correct acknowledgement is given. If you want to reproduce the whole article in a third-party commercial publication (excluding your thesis/dissertation for which permission is not required) please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.

Social activity

Spotlight

Advertisements