The tetrahedral geometry is ubiquitous in natural and synthetic systems. Regular tetrahedra do not tile space, which makes understanding their self-assembly behavior a formidable challenge. In 2009, simulations of hard tetrahedra —that is particles with the shape of a regular tetrahedron, interacting only by excluded volume interactions— discovered a dodecagonal quasicrystal stabilized by entropy alone. But while this quasicrystal forms robustly and reproducibly in simulation, it competes with periodic approximants and cannot be the thermodynamic ground state in the limit of infinite pressure. In this limit, the densest packing will eventually prevail, which is a simple (in comparison) dimer crystal.

Finally, after 14 years, our simulation predictions are confirmed. Yi Wang from the group of Xingchen Ye at Indiana University (USA) experimentally realized multiple phases of tetrahedron colloids where vertex sharpness, surface ligands, and the self-assembly environment play key roles in the formation of the quasicrystal and the dimer crystal. Our colleagues at the Institute of Micro- and Nanostructure Research at FAU resolved the complex three-dimensional structure of the quasicrystal by a combination of electron microscopy, tomography, and synchrotron X-ray scattering. The joint findings demonstrate the predictive power of computer simulations as well as the importance of accurate control over nanocrystal attributes and the assembly method to realize increasingly complex nanopolyhedron supracrystals.

Read about the research here:

Yi Wang, Jun Chen, Ruipeng Li, Alexander Götz, Dominik Drobek, Thomas Przybilla, Sabine Hübner, Philipp Pelz, Lin Yang, Benjamin Apeleo Zubiri, Erdmann Spiecker, Michael Engel, Xingchen Ye
Controlled Self-Assembly of Gold Nanotetrahedra into Quasicrystals and Complex Periodic Supracrystals
Journal of the American Chemical Society 145, 17902 (2023)

This year we repeated the group excursion of 2021 and went climbing on the via Ferrata Norissteig und the first part of Höhenglücksteig. We had good weather and much fun. Thanks for a great day!

Everybody waiting to get started in front of Amtsknechthöhle.
Climbing up to the Noris-Brettl.

Carlos Lange Bassani received the Best Poster Award at the International Conference on Gas Hydrates – ICGH10 ( held in Singapore from 9 to 14 of July, 2023, for the work entitled “A New Approach for Gas Hydrate Slurry Flow based on a Multiscale Model for Multiphase Flow”, in collaboration with Colorado School of Mines/USA, Mines Saint-Etienne/France, and UTFPR/Brazil.

ICGH is the most important conference in the field of gas clathrate hydrates and takes place every 3 years. Carlos Lange Bassani acknowledges the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for the sponsorship of his postdoctoral fellowship and the Emerging Talents Initiative of the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg that allowed the participation in the conference.

Prof. Conference chair Prof. Praveen Linga presents the award to Carlos Lange Bassani.

Kaijie Zhao joined the group as a PhD student. He will be conducting research on the self-assembly and phase transition of particle-based materials. Welcome!

We would like to announce the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics (KITP) conference entitled:

Structure Design and Emerging Phenomena in Nanoparticle Assemblies: What’s next?

Time: May 15-18, 2023
Location: University of California, Santa Barbara
Registration deadline: April 16, 2023

The conference aims to provide a coherent view of the current state of the field, bringing together researchers with different expertise and backgrounds. It should catalyze the development of new methods, both theoretical, computational and experimental, and define the basic science in this field.

More information can be found at:

The workshop organizers

Michael Engel, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Laura Na Liu, Universität Stuttgart
Monica Olvera, Northwestern University
Eran Rabani, University of California, Berkeley
Alex Travesset, Iowa State University

This year’s group excursion visited Streitberg in Fränkische Schweiz and consisted of several activities: kayaking, hiking, and visiting a cave. Thanks all for participating!

Kayaking on the river Wiesent.
On top of castle Neideck.

Our lab will participate again at this year’s long night of science (open door to the university).

Visit us on south campus this Saturday, May 21 from 18h to 24h and learn about other activities at:

At the IZNF building, Cauerstrasse 3 in Erlangen visitors can perform interactive simulations or learn about our research.
Simulations can be performed on stationary computers, iPads, or on your own smartphone.

Thanks to Navid Panchi, Federico Tomazic, and Nydia Varela-Rosales for javascript/html5 coding and the design of the demos!

Check out the simulation tool here:
Interactive Particle Simulations for LN ’22

We* are coordinating a program at the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara in the period Mar 27, 2023 — May 19, 2023 on the topic nanoparticle assemblies. Applications can still be entered here:

Nanoparticle Assemblies: A New Form of Matter with Classical Structure and Quantum Function

*Coordinators: Michael Engel, Laura Na Liu, Monica Olvera de la Cruz, Eran Rabani, and Alex Travesset

Materials whose elementary building blocks are nanoparticles with dimensions between a few and hundred nanometers, such as nanocrystals and colloids, instead of atoms or molecules, provide a new form of matter, with many properties, both in structure and function, that are not achievable with traditional materials. This raises a number of new fundamental questions such as:

  • What is the minimal physical description at the nanoscale?
  • How to discover new assemblies?
  • What are the effects or properties for these new materials and the characterization of equilibrium and metastability?

The program will bring together scientists from diverse communities: physicists, chemists and material scientists in an effort to address the emerging fundamental questions and long-term prospects of this young field. It will develop collaborative efforts in the areas of programmable assembly, structure prediction, inverse methods, electronic properties and new functional materials, with the goal of becoming a reference for the exciting future ahead.