Self-assembly with colloidal clusters: facile crystal design using connectivity landscape analysis†
Recent experimental and theoretical studies demonstrate that prefabricated micron-scale colloidal clusters functionalized with DNA oligomers offer a practical way for introducing anisotropic interactions, significantly extending the scope of DNA-mediated colloidal assembly, and enabling the formation of interesting crystalline superstructures that are otherwise inaccessible with short-ranged, spherically symmetric interactions. However, it is apparent that the high-dimensional parameter space that defines the geometric and interaction properties of such systems poses an obstacle to assembly design and optimization. Here, we present a geometrical analysis that generates connectivity landscapes for target superstructures, greatly reducing the space over which subsequent experimental trials must search. We focus on several superstructures that are assembled from binary systems comprised of ‘merged’ or ‘sintered’ tetrahedral clusters and single spheres. We also validate and extend the analytical constraint approach with direct MD simulations of superstructure nucleation and growth.