Sharon Glotzer

Sharon Glotzer

Departments of Chemical Engineering, Material Science & Engineering, Macromolecular Science & Engineering, and Physics
University of Michigan
Sharon Glotzer

Plenary Talk 5: Digital Alchemy for Optimized Self Assembly

Algorithmic self-assembly generally relies on designing interaction rules so that specific building blocks "fall" into place to assemble a desired target structure. In such cases, the complexity of the interaction ruleset scales with the complexity of the target structure. Crystallographic self-assembly, in contrast, relies on simple, uniform interactions among building blocks (atoms, molecules, colloids), often forming structures of great complexity without the need for interaction specificity. Even excluded volume interactions, in the absence of any other forces, can lead to the entropic assembly of remarkably complex, even aperiodic, ordered structures. In this talk we show how entropic as well as simple isotropic interactions can lead to such complexity, even if the building blocks are identical and relatively simple, and how the choice of "best" shape or interaction ruleset for a target assembly can be formalized through extended ensemble theory and “digital alchemy.” By understanding how complexity can be achieved even from simple rules, the lessons we learn suggest that a generalized approach to algorithmic assembly could lead to simplifications in the rules used for generation of complex structures.