Controlled Symmetry Breaking in Colloidal Crystal Engineering with DNA

Christine R. Laramy, Hector Lopez-Rios, Matthew N. O'Brien, Martin Girard, Robert J. Stawicki, Byeongdu Lee, Monica Olvera De La Cruz, Chad A. Mirkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The programmed crystallization of particles into low-symmetry lattices represents a major synthetic challenge in the field of colloidal crystal engineering. Herein, we report an approach to realizing such structures that relies on a library of low-symmetry Au nanoparticles, with synthetically adjustable dimensions and tunable aspect ratios. When modified with DNA ligands and used as building blocks for colloidal crystal engineering, these structures enable one to expand the types of accessible lattices and to answer mechanistic questions about phase transitions that break crystal symmetry. Indeed, crystals formed from a library of elongated rhombic dodecahedra yield a rich phase space, including low-symmetry lattices (body-centered tetragonal and hexagonal planar). Molecular dynamics simulations corroborate and provide insight into the origin of these phase transitions. In particular, we identify an unexpected asymmetry in the DNA shell, distinct from both the particle and lattice symmetries, which enables directional, nonclose-packed interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1412-1420
Number of pages9
JournalACS nano
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 26 2019


  • Anisotropy
  • Au nanoparticle
  • Colloidal crystal engineering
  • DNA
  • Programmable atom equivalent
  • Symmetry breaking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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