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Nat Mater. 2013 Mar;12(3):217-22. doi: 10.1038/nmat3496. Epub 2013 Jan 13.

Entropy favours open colloidal lattices.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Philadelphia 19104, USA.


Burgeoning experimental and simulation activity seeks to understand the existence of self-assembled colloidal structures that are not close-packed. Here we describe an analytical theory based on lattice dynamics and supported by experiments that reveals the fundamental role entropy can play in stabilizing open lattices. The entropy we consider is associated with the rotational and vibrational modes unique to colloids interacting through extended attractive patches. The theory makes predictions of the implied temperature, pressure and patch-size dependence of the phase diagram of open and close-packed structures. More generally, it provides guidance for the conditions at which targeted patchy colloidal assemblies in two and three dimensions are stable, thus overcoming the difficulty in exploring by experiment or simulation the full range of conceivable parameters.


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