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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry