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Simulation of armoured and swollen vesicles

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The Mathematics of Liquid Crystals

Polymer vesicles, fluid filled polymer sacs, have attracted much attention for applications such as drug delivery vehicles, miniature chemical reactors, or as synthetic, minimal cells. In these applications the vehicles may undergo significant changes in osmotic pressure, pH, or concentration, which may lead to vesicle rupture or collapse. In order to avoid this a number of possible strategies may be used to stabilise vesicles against changes in external environment. In this talk I will discuss some recent simulation work studying two of these – armouring and swelling.

Recently it has been shown that polymer vesicles may be coated with a layer of colloidal particles that armour these, in a similar manner to some biological systems. Simple Monte Carlo simulations were used to reproduce the packing patterns seen in these experimental systems and to study the effect of surface charge density on the self-assembly [1]. Dissipative particle dynamics simulations were used to study the swelling of a polymer bilayer when exposed to small hydrophobic molecules. Above a critical density of hydrophobic molecules the bilayer undergoes a morphological transition characterised by the formation of a bud within the bilayer, consistent with experimental observations of polymer vesicles [2].

[1] R Chen, DJG Pearce, S Fortuna, DL Cheung, and SAF Bon, J Am Chem Soc, 133, 2151 (2011) [2] CDJ Parmenter, R Chen, DL Cheung, and SAF Bon, Soft Matter, in press

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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