The role of impurities in the self-assembly of polymer-grafted nanoparticles.
Traditionally, self-assembled structures are formed using chemical differences within a species. Examples of this are the formation of micelles by detergents, and the formation of the phospholipid bilayer of the cell membrane. In these systems, it is the tendency to the hydrophobic and hydrophilic part to avoid each other that result in the self-assembled state. However, a recent study (http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2017/sm/c7sm00230k) has pointed out that it is possible to form self-assembled states without any chemical differences. This project focuses on how the presence of small amount of impurities (without any chemical difference from the main species) can change the self-assembly.