Stability of membrane-induced self-assemblies of spherical nanoparticles†
The self-assembly of spherical nanoparticles, resulting from their adhesion on tensionless lipid membranes, is investigated through molecular dynamics simulations of a coarse-grained implicit-solvent model. Our simulations indicate that, with increasing adhesion strength, while reshaping the membrane, the nanoparticles aggregate into a sequence of self-assemblies corresponding to in-plane chains, two-row tubular (bitube) chains, annular (ring) chains, and single-row tubular (tube) chains. Annealing scans, with respect to adhesion strength, show that the transitions between the various phases are highly first-order with significant hystereses. Free energy calculations indicate that the gas and single-row tubular chains are stable over wide ranges of adhesion strength. In contrast, the in-plane chains are only stable for small aggregates of NPs, and the bitube and ring chains are long-lived metastable states over a wide range of adhesion strength.