Clusters in the form of aggregates of a small number of elemental units display structural, thermodynamic, and dynamic properties different from those of bulk materials. We studied the kinetic pathways of self-assembly of "Janus spheres" with hemispherical hydrophobic attraction and found key differences from those characteristic of molecular amphiphiles. Experimental visualization combined with theory and molecular dynamics simulation shows that small, kinetically favored isomers fuse, before they equilibrate, into fibrillar triple helices with at most six nearest neighbors per particle. The time scales of colloidal rearrangement combined with the directional interactions resulting from Janus geometry make this a prototypical system to elucidate, on a mechanistic level and with single-particle kinetic resolution, how chemical anisotropy and reaction kinetics coordinate to generate highly ordered structures.
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