Multistep kinetic self-assembly of DNA-coated colloids
Equilibrium self-assembly relies on the relaxation of disordered mixtures of building blocks towards an ordered ground state. The main drawback of this traditional approach lies in the kinetic traps that often interrupt the progression of the system towards equilibrium and lead to the formation of arrested phases. The latest techniques to control colloidal interactions open up the possibility of exploiting the tendency to dynamically arrest in order to construct amorphous materials with a specific morphology and local separation between multiple components. Here we propose strategies to direct the gelation of two-component colloidal mixtures by sequentially activating selective interactions. We investigate morphological changes in the structure of the arrested phases both by means of molecular dynamics simulations and experimentally by using DNA-coated colloids. Our approach can be exploited to assemble multicomponent mesoporous materials with possible applications in hybrid photovoltaics, photonics and drug delivery.