(162d) Self-Assembly of Complex and Universal Crystal Structures | AIChE

(162d) Self-Assembly of Complex and Universal Crystal Structures

The ability to create an increasing variety of intricate nanoparticles and colloids has led to the observation of a diverse set of self-assembled structures in the realm of soft materials over the last 15 years [1–5]. While simple, sphere-packing-type arrangements are still commonly found, many of the discovered structures exhibit geometries equivalent to more complex crystal structures on the atomic scale, such as Frank-Kasper phases or clathrates. We want to understand how these building blocks and their self-assembly mechanisms can be engineered to create novel, functional materials.

The formation of different crystal structures can be driven by a variety of particle parameters such as shape, and specific patchy or isotropic interactions [6–8]. Similarly, different atomic compounds crystallize into many of the same crystal structures, despite being driven by different chemical bonding forces, e.g., metallic and van-der-Waals bonding that both cause the formation of close-packed structures, or covalent and hydrogen bonding, either of which cause the formation of the cage-like host structures in silicon-based clathrates vs. clathrate hydrates.

To examine these assembly behaviors, we will highlight "universal" crystal structures that occur in a plethora of systems and on various length scales, as well as the necessary conditions under which these crystals form. We will discuss how both direct screening and inverse design approaches explore different aspects of generality and variation in diverse particle self-assembly phase spaces (e.g., [8–11]). Viewing such disparate systems through a common lens gives us insights into designing new types of structures with new geometries and materials properties.

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