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Kinetics-Controlled Amphiphile Self-Assembly Processes

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journal contribution
posted on 02.04.2017, 00:00 by Xiaoyan Zheng, Lizhe Zhu, Xiangze Zeng, Luming Meng, Lu Zhang, Dong Wang, Xuhui Huang
Amphiphile self-assembly is an essential bottom-up approach of fabricating advanced functional materials. Self-assembled materials with desired structures are often obtained through thermodynamic control. Here, we demonstrate that the selection of kinetic pathways can lead to drastically different self-assembled structures, underlining the significance of kinetic control in self-assembly. By constructing kinetic network models from large-scale molecular dynamics simulations, we show that two largely similar amphiphiles, 1-[11-oxo-11-(pyren-1-ylmethoxy)-undecyl]­pyridinium bromide (PYR) and 1-(11-((5a1,8a-dihydropyren-1-yl)­methylamino)-11-oxoundecyl)­pyridinium bromide (PYN), prefer distinct kinetic assembly pathways. While PYR prefers an incremental growth mechanism and forms a nanotube, PYN favors a hopping growth pathway leading to a vesicle. Such preference was found to originate from the subtle difference in the distributions of hydrophobic and hydrophilic groups in their chemical structures, which leads to different rates of the adhesion process among the aggregating micelles. Our results are in good agreement with experimental results, and accentuate the role of kinetics in the rational design of amphiphile self-assembly.