There are many remarkable examples of the biological self-assembly
of complex objects.
For example, viral capsid proteins are able to reversibly self assemble
into complete viral capsids of given size, structure and symmetry.
But what are the physical principles underlying this remarkable property?
How difficult would it be to create synthetic particles that could similarly
self-assemble into monodisperse objects?
We have an ongoing research programme which is seeking to answer these
questions, both from the perspective of simple model particles for which a
detailed understanding of the kinetic factors affecting their self-assembly
can be obtained, and from more realistic models of biological molecules,
such as virus capsids and clathrin molecules.
Below are four snapshots from a simulation where 72 model particles self
assemble to form six hollow icosahedra.
This project is in collaboration with the group of
Dr Ard Louis in
The Rudolf Peierls Centre
for Theoretical Physics.
A. Reinhardt, A.J. Williamson, J.P.K. Doye, J. Carrete, L.M. Varela and A.A. Louis, J. Chem. Phys. 134, 104905 (2011)
Reentrant phase behaviour for systems with competition between phase
separation and self-assembly
A.J. Williamson, A.W. Wilber, J.P.K. Doye and A.A. Louis, Soft Matter, 7, 3423-3431 (2011)
Templated self-assembly of patchy particles
I.G. Johnston, A.A. Louis and J.P.K. Doye, J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 22, 104101 (2010)
Modelling the self-assembly of virus capsids
A.W. Wilber, J.P.K. Doye, A.A. Louis and A.C.F. Lewis, J. Chem. Phys. 131, 175102 (2009)
Monodisperse self-assembly in a model with protein-like interactions
A.W. Wilber, J.P.K. Doye and A.A. Louis, J. Chem. Phys. 131, 175101 (2009)
Self-assembly of monodisperse clusters: Dependence on target geometry
G. Villar, A.W. Wilber, A.J. Williamson, P. Thiara, J.P.K. Doye,
A.A. Louis, M.N. Jochum, A.C.F. Lewis and E.D. Levy,
Phys. Rev. Lett 102, 118106 (2009)
The self-assembly and evolution of homomeric protein complexes
A.W. Wilber, J.P.K. Doye, A.A. Louis, E.G. Noya, M.A. Miller,
P. Wong, J. Chem. Phys. 127, 085106 (2007)
Reversible self-assembly of patchy particles into monodisperse icosahedral clusters