Self-assembly with a twist
Once initiated, most self-assembly pathways proceed without bound, resulting in the formation of three dimensional assemblages whose size is only limited by the number of the available building blocks. Designing an assembly process in which the final structure is self-limited to two or one dimensions presents a significantly more difficult challenge. Perhaps the best known example of self-limited assembly stems from amphiphilic lipds and surfactants in which two incompatible components are irreversibly cross-linked together. By tuning the size of the hydrophilic head relative to the hydrophobic tail it is possible to precisely engineer the geometry of the final assemblage. In this talk I will described a robust mechanism by which homogeneous rod-like molecules assemble into self-limited membrane-like structures. The exact structure of the final assemblage is determined by the anisotropy of the constituent rodlike molecules and their molecular chirality. Because of the simplicity and universality of hard core interactions which dominate the phase behavior of the experimental system, our results are directly applicable to all rodlike particles including various nanorod and nanotube systems.