Self-assembly of Pseudo-Dipolar Nanoparticles at Low Densities and Strong Coupling.


Facultad de Matemática, Astronomía, Física y Computación, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, X5000HUA, Córdoba, Argentina. [Email]


Nanocolloids having directional interactions are highly relevant for designing new self-assembled materials easy to control. In this article we report stochastic dynamics simulations of finite-size pseudo-dipolar colloids immersed in an implicit dielectric solvent using a realistic continuous description of the quasi-hard Coulombic interaction. We investigate structural and dynamical properties near the low-temperature and highly-diluted limits. This system self-assembles in a rich variety of string-like configurations, depicting three clearly distinguishable regimes with decreasing temperature: fluid, composed by isolated colloids; string-fluid, a gas of short string-like clusters; and string-gel, a percolated network. By structural characterization using radial distribution functions and cluster properties, we calculate the state diagram, verifying the presence of string-fluid regime. Regarding the string-gel regime, we show that the antiparallel alignment of the network chains arises as a novel self-assembly mechanism when the characteristic interaction energy exceeds the thermal energy in two orders of magnitude, ud/kBT ≈ 100. This is associated to relevant structural modifications in the network connectivity and porosity. Furthermore, our results give insights about the dynamically-arrested nature of the string-gel regime, where we show that the slow relaxation takes place in minuscule energy steps that reflect local rearrangements of the network.

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