Common physical framework explains phase behavior and dynamics of atomic, molecular, and polymeric network formers
Whitelam, Stephen and Tamblyn, Isaac and Haxton, Thomas K. and Wieland, Maria B. and Champness, Neil R. and Garrahan, Juan P. and Beton, Peter H. (2014) Common physical framework explains phase behavior and dynamics of atomic, molecular, and polymeric network formers. Physical Review X, 4 (1). 011044/1-011044/12. ISSN 2160-3308
We show that the self-assembly of a diverse collection of building blocks can be understood within a common physical framework. These building blocks, which form periodic honeycomb networks and nonperiodic variants thereof, range in size from atoms to micron-scale polymers and interact through mechanisms as different as hydrogen bonds and covalent forces. A combination of statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics shows that one can capture the physics that governs the assembly of these networks by resolving only the geometry and strength of building-block interactions. The resulting framework reproduces a broad range of phenomena seen experimentally, including periodic and nonperiodic networks in thermal equilibrium, and nonperiodic supercooled and glassy networks away from equilibrium. Our results show how simple “design criteria” control the assembly of a wide variety of networks and suggest that kinetic trapping can be a useful way of making functional assemblies.
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