Rational design of helical architectures

D. Chakrabarti, S.N. Fejer, D.J. Wales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Nature has mastered the art of creating complex structures through self-assembly of simpler building blocks. Adapting such a bottom-up view provides a potential route to the fabrication of novel materials. However, this approach suffers from the lack of a sufficiently detailed understanding of the noncovalent forces that hold the self-assembled structures together. Here we demonstrate that nature can indeed guide us, as we explore routes to helicity with achiral building blocks driven by the interplay between two competing length scales for the interactions, as in DNA. By characterizing global minima for clusters, we illustrate several realizations of helical architecture, the simplest one involving ellipsoids of revolution as building blocks. In particular, we show that axially symmetric soft discoids can self-assemble into helical columnar arrangements. Understanding the molecular origin of such spatial organisation has important implications for the rational design of materials with useful optoelectronic applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20164-20167
Number of pages4
JournalNational Academy of Sciences. Proceedings
Issue number48
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009


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