Effects of co-ordination number on the nucleation behaviour in many-component self-assembly
We report canonical and grand-canonical lattice Monte Carlo simulations of the self-assembly of addressable structures comprising hundreds of distinct component types. The nucleation behaviour, in the form of free-energy barriers to nucleation, changes significantly as the co-ordination number of the building blocks is changed from 4 to 8 to 12. Unlike tetrahedral structures – which roughly correspond to DNA bricks that have been studied in experiments – the shapes of the free-energy barriers of higher co-ordination structures depend strongly on the supersaturation, and such structures require a very significant driving force for structure growth before nucleation becomes thermally accessible. Although growth at high supersaturation results in more defects during self-assembly, we show that high co-ordination number structures can still be assembled successfully in computer simulations and that they exhibit self-assembly behaviour analogous to DNA bricks. In particular, the self-assembly remains modular, enabling in principle a wide variety of nanostructures to be assembled, with a greater spatial resolution than is possible in low co-ordination structures.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Nanoparticle Assembly: From Fundamentals to Applications