Self-Assembly

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Self-assembly simulation.
Snapshot of a coarse-grained self-assembly simulation of a block copolymer double bilayer in water. The left panel shows the full simulation, while the right panel shows only a few molecules for clarity. This type of simulation is being used to study the short-range order of the block copolymer interface.

Self-assembly refers to the ability and tendency of various soft materials to adopt an ordered structure due to the laws of thermodynamics. The parameters of most systems consisting of soft matter move toward thermal equilibrium over time, but for some materials this involves the formation of structure at one or more scales. Molecules may assemble to form supramolecular structures, like micelles, and in turn these supramolecular structures may assemble into a crystal or other ordered structure on their own.