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The Buckling Spectra of Nanoparticle Surfactant Assemblies.


Fine control over the mechanical properties of thin sheets underpins transcytosis, cell shape, and morphogenesis. Applying these principles to artificial, liquid-based systems has led to reconfigurable materials for soft robotics, actuation, and chemical synthesis. However, progress is limited by a lack of synthetic two-dimensional membranes that exhibit tunable mechanical properties over a comparable range to that seen in nature. Here, we show that the bending modulus, B, of thin assemblies of nanoparticle surfactants (NPSs) at the oil-water interface can be varied continuously from sub-kBT to 106 kBT, by varying the ligands and particles that comprise the NPS. We find extensive departure from continuum behavior, including enormous mechanical anisotropy and a power law relation between B and the buckling spectrum width. Our findings provide a platform for shape-changing liquid devices and motivate new theories for the description of thin-film wrinkling.

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