The design of self-assembling materials in the nanometer scale focuses on the fabrication of a class of organic and inorganic subcomponents that can be reliably produced on a large scale and tailored according to their vast applications for, e.g. electronics, therapeutic vectors and diagnostic imaging agent carriers, or photonics. In a recent publication (Capone et al 2012 Phys. Rev. Lett. 109 238301), diblock copolymer stars have been shown to be a novel system, which is able to hierarchically self-assemble first into soft patchy particles and thereafter into more complex structures, such as the diamond and cubic crystal. The self-aggregating single star patchy behavior is preserved from extremely low up to high densities. Its main control parameters are related to the architecture of the building blocks, which are the number of arms (functionality) and the fraction of attractive end-monomers. By employing a variety of computational and theoretical tools, ranging from the microscopic to the mesoscopic, coarse-grained level in a systematic fashion, we investigate the crossover between the formation of microstructure versus macroscopic phase separation, as well as the formation of gels and networks in these systems. We finally show that telechelic star polymers can be used as building blocks for the fabrication of open crystal structures, such as the diamond or the simple-cubic lattice, taking advantage of the strong correlation between single-particle patchiness and lattice coordination at finite densities. © IOP Publishing and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.
Capone, B., Coluzza, I., Blaak, R., Verso, F.L., Likos, C.N. (2013). Hierarchical self-assembly of telechelic star polymers: From soft patchy particles to gels and diamond crystals. NEW JOURNAL OF PHYSICS, 15(9), 095002 [10.1088/1367-2630/15/9/095002].