Programming hierarchical self-assembly of colloids: matching stability and accessibility
Encoding hierarchical self-assembly in colloidal building blocks is a promising bottom-up route to high-level structural complexity often observed in biological materials. However, harnessing this promise faces the grand challenge of bridging hierarchies of multiple length- and time-scales, associated with structure and dynamics respectively along the self-assembly pathway. Here we report on a case study, which examines the kinetic accessibility of a series of hollow spherical structures with a two-level structural hierarchy self-assembled from charge-stabilized colloidal magnetic particles. By means of a variety of computational methods, we find that for a staged assembly pathway, the structure, which derives the strongest energetic stability from the first stage of assembly and the weakest from the second stage, is most kinetically accessible. Such a striking correspondence between energetics and kinetics for optimal design principles should have general implications for programming hierarchical self-assembly pathways for nano- and micro-particles, while matching stability and accessibility.
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