Assembly of Helical Structures in Systems with Competing Interactions under Cylindrical Confinement

The behavior under confinement of nanoparticles interacting with the short-range attraction and long-range repulsion potential is studied by means of Monte Carlo simulations in the grand canonical ensemble. The study is performed at thermodynamic conditions at which a hexagonal cylindrical phase is the most stable phase in bulk. In these conditions, cylindrical confinement promotes the formation of helical structures whose morphology depends upon both the pore radius and boundary conditions. As the pore radius increases, the fluid undergoes a series of structural transitions going from single to multiple intertwined helices to concentric helical structures. When the pore ends are closed by planar walls, ring and toroidal clusters are formed next to these walls. Dependent upon the cylinder length, molecules away from the pore edges can either keep growing into ring and toroidal aggregates or arrange into helical structures. It is demonstrated that the system behaves in cylindrical confinement in the same way as the block copolymer systems. Such behavior has not been observed for the colloidal systems in cylindrical confinement with only repulsive interactions.
Langmuir 2019, 35, 3, 702–708 Publication Date:December 27, 2018