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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Geometrical Frustration and Defect Formation in Growth of Colloidal Nanoparticle Crystals on a Cylinder: Implications for Assembly of Chiral Nanomaterials


Using a combination of experiment and simulation, we study how two-dimensional (2D) crystals of colloidal nanoparticles grow on cylindrical substrates. The cylindrical geometry allows us to examine growth in the absence of Gaussian curvature but in the presence of a closure constraint - the requirement that a crystal loops back onto itself. In some cases, this constraint results in structures that have been observed previously in theory and nonequilibrium packing experiments: chiral crystals and crystals with linear defects known as "line slips". More generally, though, the structures we see differ from those that have been observed: the line slips are kinked and contain partial vacancies. We show that these structures arise because the cylinder changes how the crystal grows. After a crystal wraps around the cylinder and touches itself, it must grow preferentially along the cylinder axis. As a result, crystals with a chiral line slip tend to trap partial vacancies. Indeed, we find that line slips that are less aligned with the cylinder axis incorporate more partial vacancies on average than the ones that are more aligned. These results show that crystal growth on a cylinder is frustrated by the closure requirement, a finding that may shed some light on the assembly of biological nanosystems such as tobacco mosaic virus and might inform ways to fabricate chiral optical nanomaterials.

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