Self-Assembly of Structures with Addressable Complexity

William M. Jacobs, Daan Frenkel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


The self-assembly of structures with "addressable complexity", where every component is distinct and is programmed to occupy a specific location within a target structure, is a promising route to engineering materials with precisely defined morphologies. Because systems with many components are inherently complicated, one might assume that the chances of successful self-assembly are extraordinarily small. Yet recent advances suggest otherwise: addressable structures with hundreds of distinct building blocks have been designed and assembled with nanometer precision. Despite this remarkable success, it is often challenging to optimize a self-assembly reaction to ensure that the intended structure is kinetically accessible. In this Perspective, we focus on the prediction of kinetic pathways for self-assembly and implications for the design of robust experimental protocols. The development of general principles to predict these pathways will enable the engineering of complex materials using a much wider range of building blocks than is currently possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2457-2467
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number8
StatePublished - Mar 2 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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