Particle self-assembly on soft elastic shells

A Saric and A Cacciuto, SOFT MATTER, 7, 1874-1878 (2011).

DOI: 10.1039/c0sm01143f

We use numerical simulations to show how noninteracting hard particles binding to a deformable elastic shell may self-assemble into a variety of linear patterns. This is a result of the nontrivial elastic response to deformations of shells. The morphology of the patterns can be controlled by the mechanical properties of the surface, and can be fine- tuned by varying the binding energy of the particles. We also repeat our calculations for a fully flexible chain and find that the chain conformations follow patterns similar to those formed by the nanoparticles under analogous conditions. We propose a simple way of understanding and sorting the different structures and relate it to the underlying shape transition of the shell. Finally, we discuss the implications of our results.

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