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Temperature protocols to guide selective self-assembly of competing structures.

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Bupathy, Arunkumar 


Multicomponent self-assembly mixtures offer the possibility of encoding multiple target structures with the same set of interacting components. Selective retrieval of one of the stored structures has been attempted by preparing an initial state that favors the assembly of the required target, through seeding, concentration patterning, or specific choices of interaction strengths. This may not be possible in an experiment where on-the-fly reconfiguration of the building blocks to switch functionality may be required. In this paper, we explore principles of inverse design of a multicomponent, self-assembly mixture capable of encoding two competing structures that can be selected through simple temperature protocols. We design the target structures to realize the generic situation in which one of the targets has the lower nucleation barrier, while the other is globally more stable. We observe that, to avoid the formation of spurious or chimeric aggregates, the number of neighboring component pairs that occur in both structures should be minimal. Our design also requires the inclusion of components that are part of only one of the target structures. We observe, however, that to maximize the selectivity of retrieval, the component library itself should be maximally shared by the two targets, within such a constraint. We demonstrate that temperature protocols can be designed that lead to the formation of either one of the target structures with high selectivity. We discuss the important role played by secondary aggregation products in improving selectivity, which we term "vestigial aggregates."



directed assembly, programmable matter, self-assembly

Journal Title

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology (Nanomission/TUE-CMS JNCASR, DST/INT/UK/P-149/2016)
UK-India Education and Research Initiative (IND/CONT/G/16-17/104)
Science and Engineering Research Board, Depaartment of Science and Technology, India (JBR/2020/000015)
National Supercomputing Mission, India (JNCASR)