Design principles for self assembly with short ranged interactions

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Keywords directed self-assembly, functionalised particles, colloidal clusters, random energy model

Summary Self-assembly is an attractive bottom-up method for fabricating micro-structures which is free of the complexity and cost of traditional top-down approaches such as microfabrication. However, at its current stage of development, it suffers from low yield. In order to direct the formation of pre-designed structures with self-assembly, the constituent particles are frequently functionalised (by means of DNA coating, for example), so that their interactions can be controlled. Previous work on the design criteria for these interactions was based on local particle properties, such as the short-range interaction strength. While these criteria are important, the authors claim that global thermodynamic quantities need also be considered in order to design systems with high yield.