PerspectiveMaterials Science

A Roadmap for the Assembly of Polyhedral Particles

Science  27 Jul 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6093, pp. 417-418
DOI: 10.1126/science.1226162

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Self-assembly of atomic, molecular, or artificial nanoscale units into superstructures is a prevalent topic in science. Advances in control over the synthesis of colloidal nanoparticles (1, 2), in their organization into ordered structures (37), and in modeling of assembly (810) have boosted interest in this topic. Yet predicting what types of superstructures will be formed from specific building blocks according to the shape of the blocks and their interactions remains an open problem (11). Even if the shape is spherical and interactions between blocks do not depend on their mutual orientation, one cannot model the finite-pressure assembly on the basis of simple close-packing arguments; more elaborate approaches are required. On page 453 of this issue, Damasceno et al. (12) report the most extensive and systematic study thus far on the assembly behavior of polyhedral “hard” particles of many different shapes. The study exploits a large set of shapes to determine simple predictive criteria for assembly.