Fuel-Mediated Transient Clustering of Colloidal Building Blocks

Bas G.P. Van Ravensteijn, Wouter E. Hendriksen, Rienk Eelkema, Jan H. Van Esch, Willem K. Kegel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Fuel-driven assembly operates under the continuous influx of energy and results in superstructures that exist out of equilibrium. Such dissipative processes provide a route toward structures and transient behavior unreachable by conventional equilibrium self-assembly. Although perfected in biological systems like microtubules, this class of assembly is only sparsely used in synthetic or colloidal analogues. Here, we present a novel colloidal system that shows transient clustering driven by a chemical fuel. Addition of fuel causes an increase in hydrophobicity of the building blocks by actively removing surface charges, thereby driving their aggregation. Depletion of fuel causes reappearance of the charged moieties and leads to disassembly of the formed clusters. This reassures that the system returns to its initial, equilibrium state. By taking advantage of the cyclic nature of our system, we show that clustering can be induced several times by simple injection of new fuel. The fuel-mediated assembly of colloidal building blocks presented here opens new avenues to the complex landscape of nonequilibrium colloidal structures, guided by biological design principles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9763-9766
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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