Mikto-Arm Stars as Soft-Patchy Particles: From Building Blocks to Mesoscopic Structures

Polymers (Basel). 2021 Apr 1;13(7):1114. doi: 10.3390/polym13071114.


We present an atomistic molecular dynamics study of self-assembled mikto-arm stars, which resemble patchy-like particles. By increasing the number of stars in the system, we propose a systematic way of examining the mutual orientation of these fully penetrable patchy-like objects. The individual stars maintain their patchy-like morphology when creating a mesoscopic (macromolecular) self-assembled object of more than three stars. The self-assembly of mikto-arm stars does not lead to a deformation of the stars, and their shape remains spherical. We identified characteristic sub-units in the self-assembled structure, differing by the mutual orientation of the nearest neighbor stars. The current work aims to elucidate the possible arrangements of the realistic, fully penetrable patchy particles in polymer matrix and to serve as a model system for further studies of nanostructured materials or all-polymer nanocomposites using the mikto-arm stars as building blocks.

Keywords: atomistic simulations; mikto-arm stars; patchy particles.

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