PhysRevResearch.3.L022008.pdf (1.78 MB)
Download file

Self-assembly in soft matter with multiple length scales

Download (1.78 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 08.10.2021, 10:19 by Alberto Scacchi, Sousa Javan Nikkhah, Maria Sammalkorpi, Tapio Ala-NissilaTapio Ala-Nissila
Spontaneous self-assembly in molecular systems is a fundamental route to both biological and engineered soft matter. Simple micellization, emulsion formation, and polymer mixing are well understood. However, the principles behind emergence of structures with competing length scales in soft matter systems remain unknown. Examples include droplet-inside-droplet assembly in many biomacromolecular systems undergoing liquid-liquid phase separation, analogous multiple emulsion formation in oil-surfactant-water formulations, and polymer core-shell particles with internal structure. We develop here a microscopic theoretical model based on effective interactions between the constituents of a soft matter system to explain self-organization both at single and multiple length scales. The model identifies how spatial ordering at multiple length scales emerges due to competing interactions between the system components, e.g., molecules of different sizes and different chemical properties. As an example of single and multiple length scale assembly, we map out a generic phase diagram for a solution with two solute species differing in their mutual and solvent interactions. We further connect the phase diagram to a molecular system via molecular simulations of a block-copolymer system that has a transition from regular single-core polymer particles to multicore aggregates that exhibit multiple structural length scales. The findings provide guidelines to understanding the length scales rising spontaneously in biological self-assembly but also open venues to the development and engineering of biomolecular and polymeric functional materials and pharmaceutical formulations.

Funding

Academy of Finland Grant No. 309324 (M.S.) and No. 307806 and No. 312298 (T.A.-N.)

Technology Industries of Finland Centennial Foundation TT2020 grant

FinnCERES Materials Bioeconomy Ecosystem

History

School

  • Science

Department

  • Mathematical Sciences

Published in

Physical Review Research

Volume

3

Issue

2

Publisher

American Physical Society (APS)

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Authors

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by the American Physical Society under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Acceptance date

25/03/2021

Publication date

2021-04-23

Copyright date

2021

eISSN

2643-1564

Language

en

Depositor

Prof Tapio Ala-Nissila. Deposit date: 7 October 2021

Article number

L022008

Usage metrics

Read the paper on the publisher website

Categories

Keywords

Licence

Exports