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Daniela Kraft: „Self-assembly of patchy particles – "nano building blocks"”
Center for Soft Matter Research, Department of Physics, New York University, USA

Self-assembly of colloidal particles into larger structures bears potential for creating materials with unprecedented properties, such as full photonic band gaps in the visible region. For such self-assembly, uniform colloids are quite limited as building blocks since their shape is the only control parameter. Much more promising in this respect are colloids with site-specific attractions. However, so far such ‘patchy’ colloids have mainly been studied with computer simulations as their attainment in the laboratory has proven to be quite a challenge.

Here we report two novel experimental realizations of patchy particles, focusing in particular on the simplest case of colloids with one patch only. With these "nano-Lego" building blocks new colloidal structures can be built up in solution. The intriguing similarities between the colloidal assemblies and space-filling models for molecules or surfactant micelles are discussed. We quantify the latter by employing a theoretical micelle model and compare our results to Monte Carlo and Molecular Dynamics simulations.