Programming hierarchical self-assembly of anisotropic colloids


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Morphew, Daniel (2018). Programming hierarchical self-assembly of anisotropic colloids. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Colloidal self-assembly promises to be an elegant and efficient route to the bottom-up fabrication of 3-dimensional structures. Programming hierarchical schemes for colloid self-assembly has the potential to widen structural diversity and mimic biological complexity. However, it remains a grand challenge to bridge hierarchies of multiple length- and time-scales associated with the structure and dynamics along complex self-assembly pathways.

This thesis employs a variety of computational techniques to address this challenge in silico, programming colloidal self-assembly for structural hierarchy in close connection with contemporary experimental research. In a series of studies, the self-assembly of designer charge-stabilised colloidal magnetic particles into a number of supracolloidal polyhedra for size-selected clusters is demonstrated. The design space supports self-assembled polyhedra of very different morphologies, namely tubular and hollow spheroidal structures, for which the dominant pathways for self-assembly are elucidated, revealing two distinct mechanisms. Here, it is found that for a staged assembly pathway the structure, which derives the strongest energetic stability from the first stage and the weakest from the second stage, is most kinetically accessible.

Stemming from these findings, a generic design principle exploiting a hierarchy of interaction strengths is introduced. This design principle is subsequently employed to demonstrate the hierarchical self-assembly of triblock patchy colloidal particles into a variety of colloidal crystals. Furthermore, this design framework exhibits a novel bottom-up route to the fabrication of cubic diamond colloidal crystals, which until recently, have remained elusive.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
School or Department: School of Chemistry
Funders: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Other
Other Funders: The University of Birmingham
Subjects: Q Science > QD Chemistry


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