Self-assembly in natural and synthetic molecular systems can create complex aggregates or materials whose properties and functionalities rise from their internal structure and molecular arrangement. The key microscopic features that control such assemblies remain poorly understood, nevertheless. Using classical density functional theory, we demonstrate how the intrinsic length scales and their interplay in terms of interspecies molecular interactions can be used to tune soft matter self-assembly. We apply our strategy to two different soft binary mixtures to create guidelines for tuning intermolecular interactions that lead to transitions from a fully miscible, liquid-like uniform state to formation of simple and core-shell aggregates and mixed aggregate structures. Furthermore, we demonstrate how the interspecies interactions and system composition can be used to control concentration gradients of component species within these assemblies. The insight generated by this work contributes toward understanding and controlling soft multi-component self-assembly systems. Additionally, our results aid in understanding complex biological assemblies and their function and provide tools to engineer molecular interactions in order to control polymeric and protein-based materials, pharmaceutical formulations, and nanoparticle assemblies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number014904
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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