Probabilistic inverse design for self-assembling materials

by Jadrich, RB; Lindquist, BA; Truskett, TM

Journal of Chemical Physics; May 14 2017; Volume: 146; Issue: 18; Article Number: 184103; DOI: 10.1063/1.4981796

One emerging approach for the fabrication of complex architectures on the nanoscale is to utilize particles customized to intrinsically self-assemble into a desired structure. Inverse methods of statistical mechanics have proven particularly effective for the discovery of interparticle interactions suitable for this aim. Here we evaluate the generality and robustness of a recently introduced inverse design strategy [B. A. Lindquist et al., J. Chem. Phys. 145, 111101 (2016)] by applying this simulation-based machine learning method to optimize for interparticle interactions that self-assemble particles into a variety of complex microstructures as follows: cluster fluids, porous mesophases, and crystalline lattices. Using the method, we discover isotropic pair interactions that lead to the self-assembly of each of the desired morphologies, including several types of potentials that were not previously understood to be capable of stabilizing such systems. One such pair potential led to the assembly of the highly asymmetric truncated trihexagonal lattice and another produced a fluid containing spherical voids, or pores, of designed size via purely repulsive interactions. Through these examples, we demonstrate several advantages inherent to this particular design approach including the use of a parametrized functional form for the optimized interparticle interactions, the ability to constrain the range of said parameters, and compatibility of the inverse design strategy with a variety of simulation protocols (e.g., positional restraints).

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