The interplay between thermodynamics and kinetics in the self-assembly of DNA functionalized nanoparticles
We use a coarse-grained model of DNA-functionalized particles to understand the role of DNA chain length on their self-assembly. We find that the increasing chain length for a given particle size decreases the propensity to form ordered crystalline assemblies, and instead, disordered structures start to form when the chain length exceeds a certain threshold, which is consistent with the previous experiments. Further analysis of the simulation data suggests weakening interparticle interactions with increasing chain length, thereby shifting the suitable assembly conditions to lower temperatures at which assembly dynamics are unfavorable. This highlights a complex interplay between thermodynamics and dynamics, which we suggest can be modulated by changing the system parameters such as DNA grafting density, resulting in successful crystallization of particles with longer DNA chain lengths. Our results highlight the power of computational modeling in elucidating the fundamental design principles and guiding the assembly of nanoparticles to form complex nanostructures.