Soft elastic surfaces as a platform for particle self-assembly

A Saric and A Cacciuto, SOFT MATTER, 7, 8324-8329 (2011).

DOI: 10.1039/c1sm05773a

We perform numerical simulations to study self-assembly of nanoparticles mediated by an elastic planar surface. We show how the nontrivial elastic response to deformations of these surfaces leads to anisotropic interactions between the particles resulting in aggregates having different geometrical features. The morphology of the patterns can be controlled by the mechanical properties of the surface and the strength of the particle adhesion. We use simple scaling arguments to understand the formation of the different structures, and we show how the adhering particles can cause the underlying elastic substrate to wrinkle if two of its opposite edges are clamped. Finally, we discuss the implications of our results and suggest how elastic surfaces could be used in nanofabrication.

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