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  1. The promise of self-assembly to enable the bottom-up formation of materials with prescribed architectures and functions has driven intensive efforts to uncover rational design principles for maximizing the yield of a target structure. Yet, despite many successful examples of self-assembly, ensuring kinetic accessibility of the target structure remains an unsolved problem in many systems. In particular, long-lived kinetic traps can result in assembly times that vastly exceed experimentally accessible timescales. One proposed solution is to design non-equilibrium assembly protocols in which system parameters change over time to avoid such kinetic traps. Here, we develop a framework to combine Markov state model (MSM) analysis with optimal control theory to compute a time-dependent protocol that maximizes the yield of the target structure at a finite time. We present an adjoint-based gradient descent method that, in conjunction with MSMs for a system as a function of its control parameters, enables efficiently optimizing the assembly protocol. We also describe an interpolation approach to significantly reduce the number of simulations required to construct the MSMs. We demonstrate our approach with two examples; a simple semi-analytic model for the folding of a polymer of colloidal particles, and a more complex model for capsid assembly. Our resultsmore »show that optimizing time-dependent protocols can achieve significant improvements in the yields of selected structures, including equilibrium free energy minima, long-lived metastable structures, and transient states.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 22, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 28, 2023
  3. Abstract An active Brownian particle is a minimal model for a self-propelled colloid in a dissipative environment. Experiments and simulations show that, in the presence of boundaries and obstacles, active Brownian particle systems approach nontrivial nonequilibrium steady states with intriguing phenomenology, such as accumulation at boundaries, ratchet effects, and long-range depletion interactions. Nevertheless, theoretical analysis of these phenomena has proven difficult. Here, we address this theoretical challenge in the context of non-interacting particles in two dimensions, basing our analysis on the steady-state Smoluchowski equation for the one-particle distribution function. Our primary result is an approximation strategy that connects asymptotic solutions of the Smoluchowski equation to boundary conditions. We test this approximation against the exact analytic solution in a 2D planar geometry, as well as numerical solutions in circular and elliptic geometries. We find good agreement so long as the boundary conditions do not vary too rapidly with respect to the persistence length of particle trajectories. Our results are relevant for characterizing long-range flows and depletion interactions in such systems. In particular, our framework shows how such behaviors are connected to the breaking of detailed balance at the boundaries.
  4. Abstract

    In active matter systems, deformable boundaries provide a mechanism to organize internal active stresses. To study a minimal model of such a system, we perform particle-based simulations of an elastic vesicle containing a collection of polar active filaments. The interplay between the active stress organization due to interparticle interactions and that due to the deformability of the confinement leads to a variety of filament spatiotemporal organizations that have not been observed in bulk systems or under rigid confinement, including highly-aligned rings and caps. In turn, these filament assemblies drive dramatic and tunable transformations of the vesicle shape and its dynamics. We present simple scaling models that reveal the mechanisms underlying these emergent behaviors and yield design principles for engineering active materials with targeted shape dynamics.

  5. Abstract

    The ability to design and synthesize ever more complicated colloidal particles opens the possibility of self-assembling a zoo of complex structures, including those with one or more self-limited length scales. An undesirable feature of systems with self-limited length scales is that thermal fluctuations can lead to the assembly of nearby, off-target states. We investigate strategies for limiting off-target assembly by using multiple types of subunits. Using simulations and energetics calculations, we explore this concept by considering the assembly of tubules built from triangular subunits that bind edge to edge. While in principle, a single type of triangle can assemble into tubules with a monodisperse width distribution, in practice, the finite bending rigidity of the binding sites leads to the formation of off-target structures. To increase the assembly specificity, we introduce tiling rules for assembling tubules from multiple species of triangles. We show that the selectivity of the target structure can be dramatically improved by using multiple species of subunits, and provide a prescription for choosing the minimum number of subunit species required for near-perfect yield. Our approach of increasing the system’s complexity to reduce the accessibility of neighboring structures should be generalizable to other systems beyond the self-assembly ofmore »tubules.

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  6. Cytoskeletal active nematics exhibit striking nonequilibrium dynamics that are powered by energy-consuming molecular motors. To gain insight into the structure and mechanics of these materials, we design programmable clusters in which kinesin motors are linked by a double-stranded DNA linker. The efficiency by which DNA-based clusters power active nematics depends on both the stepping dynamics of the kinesin motors and the chemical structure of the polymeric linker. Fluorescence anisotropy measurements reveal that the motor clusters, like filamentous microtubules, exhibit local nematic order. The properties of the DNA linker enable the design of force-sensing clusters. When the load across the linker exceeds a critical threshold, the clusters fall apart, ceasing to generate active stresses and slowing the system dynamics. Fluorescence readout reveals the fraction of bound clusters that generate interfilament sliding. In turn, this yields the average load experienced by the kinesin motors as they step along the microtubules. DNA-motor clusters provide a foundation for understanding the molecular mechanism by which nanoscale molecular motors collectively generate mesoscopic active stresses, which in turn power macroscale nonequilibrium dynamics of active nematics.

  7. Targeted drug delivery relies on two physical processes: the selective binding of a therapeutic particle to receptors on a specific cell membrane, followed by transport of the particle across the membrane. In this article, we address some of the challenges in controlling the thermodynamics and dynamics of these two processes by combining a simple experimental system with a statistical mechanical model. Specifically, we characterize and model multivalent ligand–receptor binding between colloidal particles and fluid lipid bilayers, as well as the surface mobility of membrane-bound particles. We show that the mobility of the receptors within the fluid membrane is key to both the thermodynamics and dynamics of binding. First, we find that the particle-membrane binding free energy—or avidity—is a strongly nonlinear function of the ligand–receptor affinity. We attribute the nonlinearity to a combination of multivalency and recruitment of fluid receptors to the binding site. Our results also suggest that partial wrapping of the bound particles by the membrane enhances avidity further. Second, we demonstrate that the lateral mobility of membrane-bound particles is also strongly influenced by the recruitment of receptors. Specifically, we find that the lateral diffusion coefficient of a membrane-bound particle is dominated by the hydrodynamic drag against the aggregatemore »of receptors within the membrane. These results provide one of the first direct validations of the working theoretical framework for multivalent interactions. They also highlight that the fluidity and elasticity of the membrane are as important as the ligand–receptor affinity in determining the binding and transport of small particles attached to membranes.« less
  8. Autonomous active, elastic filaments that interact with each other to achieve cooperation and synchrony underlie many critical functions in biology. The mechanisms underlying this collective response and the essential ingredients for stable synchronization remain a mystery. Inspired by how these biological entities integrate elasticity with molecular motor activity to generate sustained oscillations, a number of synthetic active filament systems have been developed that mimic oscillations of these biological active filaments. Here, we describe the collective dynamics and stable spatiotemporal patterns that emerge in such biomimetic multi-filament arrays, under conditions where steric interactions may impact or dominate the collective dynamics. To focus on the role of steric interactions, we study the system using Brownian dynamics, without considering long-ranged hydrodynamic interactions. The simulations treat each filament as a connected chain of self-propelling colloids. We demonstrate that short-range steric inter-filament interactions and filament roughness are sufficient – even in the absence of inter-filament hydrodynamic interactions – to generate a rich variety of collective spatiotemporal oscillatory, traveling and static patterns. We first analyze the collective dynamics of two- and three-filament clusters and identify parameter ranges in which steric interactions lead to synchronized oscillations and strongly occluded states. Generalizing these results to large one-dimensional arrays,more »we find rich emergent behaviors, including traveling metachronal waves, and modulated wavetrains that are controlled by the interplay between the array geometry, filament activity, and filament elasticity. Interestingly, the existence of metachronal waves is non-monotonic with respect to the inter-filament spacing. We also find that the degree of filament roughness significantly affects the dynamics – specifically, filament roughness generates a locking-mechanism that transforms traveling wave patterns into statically stuck and jammed configurations. Taken together, simulations suggest that short-ranged steric inter-filament interactions could combine with complementary hydrodynamic interactions to control the development and regulation of oscillatory collective patterns. Furthermore, roughness and steric interactions may be critical to the development of jammed spatially periodic states; a spatiotemporal feature not observed in purely hydrodynamically interacting systems.« less