Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Computational materials science

Soft heaps and clumpy crystals

A detailed simulation of the packing behaviour of deformable particles settles the debate about whether soft matter can adopt an unconventional crystal structure at high densities — it can. The hunt is now on for a real-world example.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Two particles, one centre.
Figure 2: The formation of clumpy crystals in two dimensions.


  1. Lenz, D. A., Blaak, R., Likos, C. N. & Mladek, B. M. Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 228301 (2012).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Klein, W., Gould, H., Ramos, R. A., Clejan, I. & Mel'cuk, A. I. Physica A 205, 738–746 (1994).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Mladek, B. M., Gottwald, D., Kahl, G., Neumann, M. & Likos, C. N. Phys. Rev. Lett. 96, 045701 (2006).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Narros, A., Moreno, A. J. & Likos, C. N. Soft Matter 6, 2435–2441 (2010).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Li, Y. et al. Nature Mater. 3, 38–42 (2004).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Seeman, N. C. Nature 421, 427–431 (2003).

    Article  ADS  MathSciNet  Google Scholar 

  7. Zhang, K., Charbonneau, P. & Mladek, B. M. Phys. Rev. Lett. 105, 245701 (2010).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Coslovich, D., Bernabei, M. & Moreno, A. J. J. Chem. Phys. 137, 184904 (2012).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  9. Nikoubashman, A., Kahl, G. & Likos, C. N. Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 068302 (2011).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  10. Cinti, F. et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 105, 135301 (2010).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Francesco Sciortino or Emanuela Zaccarelli.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Sciortino, F., Zaccarelli, E. Soft heaps and clumpy crystals. Nature 493, 30–31 (2013).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing