Self-assembly of Janus particles into helices with tunable pitch

MS Fernandez and VR Misko and FM Peeters, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 92, 042309 (2015).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.92.042309

Janus particles present an important class of building blocks for directional assembly. These are compartmentalized colloids with two different hemispheres. In this work we consider a three-dimensional model of Janus spheres that contain one hydrophobic and one charged hemisphere. Using molecular dynamics simulations, we study the morphology of these particles when confined in a channel-like environment. The interplay between the attractive and repulsive forces on each particle gives rise to a rich phase space where the relative orientation of each particle plays a dominant role in the formation of large-scale clusters. The interest in this system is primarily due to the fact that it could give a better understanding of the mechanisms of the formation of polar membranes. A variety of ordered membranelike morphologies is found consisting of single and multiple connected chain configurations. The helicity of these chains can be chosen by simply changing the salt concentration of the solution. Special attention is given to the formation of Bernal spirals. These helices are composed of regular tetrahedra and are known to exhibit nontrivial translational and rotational symmetry.

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