DNA-coated colloids are a popular model system for self-assembly through tunable interactions. The DNA-encoded linkages between particles theoretically allow for very high specificity, but generally no directionality or long-range interactions. We introduce a two-dimensional lattice model for particles of many different types with short-range isotropic interactions that are pairwise specific. For this class of models, of which the DNA-coated colloids are one example, we address the fundamental question whether it is possible to reliably design the interactions so that the ground state is unique and corresponds to a given crystal structure. First, we determine lower limits for the interaction range between particles, depending on the complexity of the desired pattern and the underlying lattice. Then, we introduce a proof-of-principle “recipe” for determining the pairwise interactions that exactly satisfies this minimum criterion, and we show that it is sufficient to uniquely determine the ground state for a large class of crystal structures. Finally, we verify these results using Monte Carlo simulations.

K. van Meel
Phys. Rev. E
Theory of Biomolecular Matter

Tindemans, S., & Mulder, B. (2010). Designing colloidal ground-state patterns using short-range isotropic interactions. Phys. Rev. E, 82(Article number: 21404), 1–10. doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.82.021404