Re-entrant Melting as a Design Principle for DNA-coated Colloids

Nat Mater. 2012 Apr 29;11(6):518-22. doi: 10.1038/nmat3314.


Colloids functionalized with DNA hold great promise as building blocks for complex self-assembling structures. However, the practical use of DNA-coated colloids (DNACCs) has been limited by the narrowness of the temperature window where the target structures are both thermodynamically stable and kinetically accessible. Here we propose a strategy to design DNACCs, whereby the colloidal suspensions crystallize on cooling and then melt on further cooling. In a phase diagram with such a re-entrant melting, kinetic trapping of the system in non-target structures should be strongly suppressed. We present model calculations and simulations that show that real DNA sequences exist that should bestow this unusual phase behaviour on suitably functionalized colloidal suspensions. We present our results for binary systems, but the concepts that we develop apply to multicomponent systems and should therefore open the way towards the design of truly complex self-assembling colloidal structures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Colloids*
  • Crystallization
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Temperature*


  • Colloids
  • DNA