A general theory of DNA-mediated and other valence-limited colloidal interactions

J Chem Phys. 2012 Sep 7;137(9):094108. doi: 10.1063/1.4748100.


We present a general theory for predicting the interaction potentials between DNA-coated colloids, and more broadly, any particles that interact via valence-limited ligand-receptor binding. Our theory correctly incorporates the configurational and combinatorial entropic factors that play a key role in valence-limited interactions. By rigorously enforcing self-consistency, it achieves near-quantitative accuracy with respect to detailed Monte Carlo calculations. With suitable approximations and in particular geometries, our theory reduces to previous successful treatments, which are now united in a common and extensible framework. We expect our tools to be useful to other researchers investigating ligand-mediated interactions. A complete and well-documented Python implementation is freely available at http://github.com/patvarilly/DNACC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Colloids
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / chemistry
  • Monte Carlo Method*


  • Colloids
  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • DNA