Modeling the Effective Interactions Between Heterogeneously Charged Colloids to Design Responsive Self-assembled Materials
Heterogeneously charged colloids have recently emerged as promising building blocks for the self-assembly of target structures with specific properties at the nano- and micro-scale level. Owing to the competitive interplay between the orientation-dependent attraction and repulsion—induced by the interactions between like/oppositely charged areas on the particle surface—these colloids can indeed favor the stabilization of specific structures of interest, being at the same time subject to an easy control by means of external parameters, such as the pH and the salt concentration. Here we describe how to derive a reliable and simple coarse-grained description of the effective pair interactions between spherical units with an inhomogeneous surface charge distribution. Such a coarse-grained framework allows to target—using state-of-the-art computational techniques and appropriately developed theoretical approaches—the design, the assembly and the responsiveness of colloids engineered with charged surface regions, thus providing an indispensable tool for rational materials fabrication.
I am indebted to Christos N. Likos and Gerhard Kahl for their valuable contributions to the modeling of heterogeneously charged colloids. I gratefully acknowledge the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for financial support through a Research Fellowship, and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) for financial support under Proj. Nos. M1170-N16 (Lise Meitner Fellowship) and V249-N27 (Elise Richter Fellowship).
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