Clusters of polyhedra in spherical confinement
Abstract
Dense particle packing in a confining volume remains a rich, largely unexplored problem, despite applications in blood clotting, plasmonics, industrial packaging and transport, colloidal molecule design, and information storage. Here, we report densest found clusters of the Platonic solids in spherical confinement, for up to <mml:math id="i1"><mml:mrow><mml:mi>N</mml:mi><mml:mo>=</mml:mo><mml:mn>60</mml:mn></mml:mrow></mml:math> constituent polyhedral particles. We examine the interplay between anisotropic particle shape and isotropic 3D confinement. Densest clusters exhibit a wide variety of symmetry point groups and form in up to three layers at higher N. For many N values, icosahedra and dodecahedra form clusters that resemble sphere clusters. These common structures are layers of optimal spherical codes in most cases, a surprising fact given the significant faceting of the icosahedron and dodecahedron. We also investigate cluster density as a function of N for each particle shape. We find that, in contrast to what happens in bulk, polyhedra often pack less densely than spheres. We also find especially dense clusters at socalled magic numbers of constituent particles. Our results showcase the structural diversity and experimental utility of families of solutions to the packing in confinement problem.
 Publication:

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science
 Pub Date:
 February 2016
 DOI:
 10.1073/pnas.1524875113
 Bibcode:
 2016PNAS..113E.669T