Letter abstract


Nature Materials 8, 52 - 55 (2009)
Published online: 30 November 2008 | doi:10.1038/nmat2338

Subject Category: Biological materials

Probing interfacial equilibration in microsphere crystals formed by DNA-directed assembly

Anthony J. Kim1,3, Raynaldo Scarlett1,3, Paul L. Biancaniello2, Talid Sinno1 & John C. Crocker1

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DNA is the premier material for directing nanoscale self-assembly, having been used to produce many complex forms1, 2, 3, 4. Recently, DNA has been used to direct colloids5, 6 and nanoparticles7, 8 into novel crystalline structures, providing a potential route to fabricating meta-materials9 with unique optical properties. Although theory10, 11, 12 has sought the crystal phases that minimize total free energy, kinetic barriers13 remain essentially unstudied. Here we study interfacial equilibration in a DNA-directed microsphere self-assembly system5, 6, 14 and carry out corresponding detailed simulations. We introduce a single-nucleotide difference in the DNA strands on two mixed microsphere species, which generates a free-energy penalty5, 15, 16 for inserting 'impurity' spheres into a 'host' sphere crystal, resulting in a reproducible segregation coefficient. Comparison with simulation reveals that, under our experimental conditions, particles can equilibrate only with a few nearest neighbours before burial by the growth front, posing a potential impediment to the growth of complex structures.

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  1. Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, The University of Pennsylvania, 220 S. 33rd St. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA
  2. Department of Physics and Astronomy, The University of Pennsylvania, 209 S. 33rd St. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA
  3. These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to: John C. Crocker1 e-mail: jcrocker@seas.upenn.edu



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