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Biomimetic routes to colloidal self-assembly

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Alessio Zaccone.

We designed biomimetic emulsions that are stabilized with a fluid monolayer of phospholipids. Grafting DNA onto the liquid interfaces of these oil droplets leads to exciting new architectural possibilities due to the mobility of the DNA ligands on the surface. We produce two complementary emulsions: the first one is dyed in red and functionalized with S sticky ends; the second, dyed in green, displays the complementary S’ sticky end. Mixing those emulsions reveals strong, reversible and specific adhesion between the complementary emulsions due to the short-range S-S’ hybridization. The fluidity of the binders on the surface leads to diffusive adhesion patches, which allows the bound droplets to rearrange throughout the packing structure. Furthermore, controlling the number of binders on the surface allows us to determine the number of adhesions that can be formed between droplets, i.e. their valence v. We thus produce doublets for v=1, flexible chains for v=2 and compact structures of higher valences. The valence and geometry of bonds can also be controlled through the use of patchy particles. To this aim we use immiscible mixtures of lipids that spontaneously decompose into domains on the droplets surface, creating various patterns that can be stable over weeks. We explore the origin of this stability, which in turn will help us control the number and size of functionalized patches on each droplet. Combining those two approaches this emulsion system will open the route to directed self-assembly of complex structures through distinct DNA bonds with varying strengths and controlled valence and flexibility.

This talk is part of the BSS Formal Seminars series.

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