Phase behaviour in complementary DNA-coated gold nanoparticles and fd-viruses mixtures: a numerical study

  • Massimiliano Chiappini
  • Erika Eiser
  • Francesco Sciortino
Regular Article


A new gel-forming colloidal system based on a binary mixture of fd-viruses and gold nanoparticles functionalized with complementary DNA single strands has been recently introduced. Upon quenching below the DNA melt temperature, such a system results in a highly porous gel state, that may be developed in a new functional material of tunable porosity. In order to shed light on the gelation mechanism, we introduce a model closely mimicking the experimental one and we explore via Monte Carlo simulations its equilibrium phase diagram. Specifically, we model the system as a binary mixture of hard rods and hard spheres mutually interacting via a short-range square-well attractive potential. In the experimental conditions, we find evidence of a phase separation occurring either via nucleation-and-growth or via spinodal decomposition. The spinodal decomposition leads to the formation of small clusters of bonded rods and spheres whose further diffusion and aggregation leads to the formation of a percolating network in the system. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that the mixture of DNA-coated fd-viruses and gold nanoparticles undergoes a non-equilibrium gelation via an arrested spinodal decomposition mechanism.

Graphical abstract


Soft Matter: Colloids and Nanoparticles 

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Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences, SIF, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Massimiliano Chiappini
    • 1
  • Erika Eiser
    • 2
  • Francesco Sciortino
    • 1
  1. 1.Physics DepartmentUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly
  2. 2.Cavendish LaboratoryUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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