Building blocks for autonomous computing materials: Dimers, trimers, and tetramers

XF Wei and YN Zhao and Y Zhuang and R Hernandez, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 155, 154704 (2021).

DOI: 10.1063/5.0064988

Autonomous computing materials for data storage and computing offer an opportunity for next generation of computing devices. Patchy nanoparticle networks, for example, have been suggested as potential candidates for emulating neuronal networks and performing brain-like computing. Here, we use molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to show that stable dimers, trimers, and tetramers can be built from citrate capped gold nanoparticles (cit-AuNPs) linked by poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) chains. We use different lengths of PAHs to build polymer- networked nanoparticle assemblies that can emulate a complex neuronal network linked by axons of varying lengths. We find that the tetramer structure can accommodate up to 11 different states when the AuNP pairs are connected by either of two polymer linkers, PAH(200) and PAH(300). We find that the heavy AuNPs contribute to the assembly's structure stability. To further illustrate the stability, the AuNP-AuNP distances in dimer, trimer, and tetramer structures are reduced by steering the cit-AuNPs closer to each other. At different distances, these steered structures are all locally stable in a 10 ns MD simulation time scale because of their connection to the AuNPs. We also find that the global potential energy minimum is at short AuNP-AuNP distances where AuNPs collapse because the -NH3+ and -COO- attraction reduces the potential energy. The stability and application of these fundamental structures remain to be further improved through the use of alternative polymer linkers and nanoparticles.

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