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Self-Assembly of Patchy Particles as tool for the preparation of complex supra-particles

English title Self-Assembly of Patchy Particles as tool for the preparation of complex supra-particles
Applicant Lattuada Marco
Number 178914
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département de Chimie Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Physical Chemistry
Start/End 01.04.2018 - 31.12.2022
Approved amount 573'671.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Physical Chemistry
Material Sciences

Keywords (6)

Patchy Particles; (Nano)Particles; Self-Folding; Micromachines; Self-Assembly; Janus Particles

Lay Summary (Italian)

Le micro e nano-particelle sono stati oggetto di abbondate ricerca e rivestono un' enorme importanza tecnologica. A dispetto delle numerose ricerche effettuate per sintetizzare particelle con una struttura complessa, e con funzionalità avanzate, non esistono approcci che danno la possibilità di creare particelle con forma, struttura e funzionalità desiderate.
Lay summary
Lo scopo di questo progetto è quello di creare particelle con struttura complessa usando un approccio innovativo, basato ispirato alla sintesi di proteine in fase solida. L'idea è prima di creare particelle anisotrope, con almeno due porzioni della loro superficie funzionalizzata in maniera anisotropa, e di attaccarle una dopo l'altra usando un processo simile a quello adoperato nella sintesi di polipeptidi, dove singoli amminoacidi vengono aggiunti uno alla volta nella squenza desiderata. In questo modo, si dovrebbe avere la possibilità di creare strutture molto complesse, combinando materiali diversi secondo una sequenza desiderata, dove le particelle sostituiscono concettualmente gli amminoacidi.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 04.04.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
159258 Nanoparticles self-assembly: a tool for the rational design of novel surfaces 01.01.2016 SNSF Professorships


Over several billion years, nature has developed a plethora of proteins, all built from the same twenty amino acids, with the ability to accomplish a myriad of tasks. Structural proteins, enzymes, ion channels are just a few examples of the immense variety of the functions that proteins can be designed to accomplish. Inspired by the elegance and the perfection of this approach, we hereby propose to create a novel class of complex patchy particles and particles chains by the strategy used to create artificial polypeptides. Just as nature uses a few amino acids as proteins building blocks, a few, aptly designed multifunctional (nano)particles will be used as “bricks” to construct particle chains with a defined sequence. The design of the sequence will aim at creating flexible chains with unique self-folding and self-assembly abilities. The project is divided into four steps. The first step consists in the preparation of a library of multifunctional particles, both polymeric and composite particles, with asymmetrically functionalized surfaces. Two types of particles will be created. First, triblock particles, with two patches at the opposite poles, and a functional polymer layer protecting their belts. Second, multi patchy particles will be created by using a sequence of swelling-polymerization steps developed in our group to make Janus dumbbells, which will be extended to create complex particles with multiple patches baring different functionalities. Some particles with be bestowed with responsive behavior (to stimuli such as pH, temperature, magnetic fields), and with the ability to form selective bonds, by functionalizing some of their patches with DNA chains, which will enable complementary DNA bonding. This approach is expected to lead to the formation of chiral particles. The second step of the project will consist in preparing chains of particles with pre-programmed sequences, mimicking a protein primary structure. Just as polypeptide chains are artificially synthesized by means of solid state peptide synthesis, which consists in adding amino acids one by one in the desired sequence, an analogous strategy, here named solid state particle-chains synthesis, will be applied to multifunctional particles, which will be added one after the other in a pre-defined order. The peculiar functionalization pattern of the particles and the designed successive addition procedure will ensure that only one particle at a time will be attached to a growing chain. Polymeric linkers between the particles will be used to control the bond flexibility in the chains. The third step of the project will involve the computational investigation of the self-folding and properties of the patchy particles, and their chains, mimicking the formation of secondary and tertiary structure of proteins. The design and screening of the most interesting and promising particle sequence will be carried out by Monte Carlo simulations, which will be used to systematically investigate the chain self-folding ability depending on their composition, number of inter-chain and intra-chain bonds, bond flexibility etc. The kinetics of self-assembly, and self-folding will be investigated in silico by means of Brownian dynamic simulations, and the results will be compared to experimental observations. It is believed that this will provide insight in the self-folding behavior of proteins sequences. Finally, the self-assembly of the complex particles and their chains will be also investigated experimentally, targeting novel crystal structures, supra-vesicles, and chiral assemblies, which so far have been only observed in silico. An attempt to generate af first example of a particle -chain based self-replicating systems will be carried out.