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February 28, 2007


Dr. Sharon Glotzer
Professor of Chemical Engineering
University of Michigan
"Exploiting Anisotropy for Nanoscale Assembly: The Shapes of Things to Come"

Abstract.  Recent breakthroughs in particle synthesis leading to nanoscopic and colloidal particles of unusual shape and patterning have paved the way for a revolution in materials formed from the self-assembly of these building blocks. The unprecedented anisotropy of today’s new nanoparticle and colloidal building blocks starkly contrasts with the isotropic, spherical colloids that have been the focus of particle assembly for more than a generation. As the materials community gains further control over the design and fabrication of these new particles, they are poised to become the “atoms” and “molecules” of tomorrow’s materials and devices, provided we can learn to assemble them into predictable and useful structures. No general theory exists to predict the range of structures possible for these new building blocks as a function of thermodynamic conditions, and the complementary problem of inverse design of a particular building block that can self-assemble into a desired target structure is difficult with as yet no standard design algorithm. In this talk, we present a conceptual framework with which to describe these new building blocks and explore their assembly properties. We present results of computer simulations of patchy particle and tethered nanoparticle design and assembly. We show how various measures of anisotropy, including particle shape, patterning, functionalization and interaction selectivity, can be combined and exploited to achieve complex mesoscale one-, two- and three-dimensional structures such as wires, sheets, shells, diamond, icosahedral, gyroid, and other complex structures through self-assembly.

Vanderbilt University