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  1. Molecular dynamics simulations are used to demonstrate that a binary solvent can be used to stratify colloidal mixtures when the suspension is rapidly dried.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 14, 2024
  2. Soft nanoparticles (NPs) are emerging candidates for nano medicine, particularly for intercellular imaging and targeted drug delivery. Their soft nature, manifested in their dynamics, allows translocation into organisms without damaging their membranes. A crucial step towards incorporating soft dynamic NPs in nano medicine, is to resolve their interrelation with membranes. Here using atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations we probe the interaction of soft NPs formed by conjugated polymers with a model membrane. These NPs, often termed polydots, are confined to their nano dimensions without any chemical tethers, forming dynamic long lived nano structures. Specifically, polydots formed by dialkyl para poly phenylene ethylene (PPE), with a varying number of carboxylate groups tethered to the alkyl chains to tune the interfacial charge of the surface of the NP are investigated at the interface with a model membrane that consists of di-palmitoyl phosphatidylcholine (DPPC). We find that even though polydots are controlled only by physical forces, they retain their NP configuration as they transcend the membrane. Regardless of their size, neutral polydots spontaneously penetrate the membrane whereas carboxylated polydots must be driven in, with a force that depends on the charge at their interface, all without significant disruption to the membrane. These fundamental results provide a means to control the position of the nanoparticles with respect to the membrane interfaces, which is key to their therapeutic use. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 22, 2024
  3. A method of simulating the drying process of a soft matter solution with an implicit solvent model by moving the liquid-vapor interface is applied to various solution films and droplets. For a solution of a polymer and nanoparticles, we observe “polymer-on-top” stratification, similar to that found previously with an explicit solvent model. Furthermore, “polymer-on-top” is found even when the nanoparticle size is smaller than the radius of gyration of the polymer chains. For a suspension droplet of a bidisperse mixture of nanoparticles, we show that core-shell clusters of nanoparticles can be obtained via the “small-on-outside” stratification mechanism at fast evaporation rates. “Large-on-outside” stratification and uniform particle distribution are also observed when the evaporation rate is reduced. Polymeric particles with various morphologies, including Janus spheres, core-shell particles, and patchy particles, are produced from drying droplets of polymer solutions by combining fast evaporation with a controlled interaction between the polymers and the liquid-vapor interface. Our results validate the applicability of the moving interface method to a wide range of drying systems. The limitations of the method are pointed out and cautions are provided to potential practitioners on cases where the method might fail. 
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