Coarse-grained force field for simulating polymer-tethered silsesquioxane self-assembly in solution

Elaine R. Chan*, Alberto Striolo, Clare McCabe, Peter T. Cummings, Sharon C. Glotzer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


A coarse-grained model has been developed for simulating the self-assembly of nonyl-tethered polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (POSS) nanoparticles in solution. A mapping scheme for groups of atoms in the atomistic molecule onto beads in the coarse-grained model was established. The coarse-grained force field consists of solvent-mediated effective interaction potentials that were derived via a structural-based coarse-graining numerical iteration scheme. The force field was obtained from initial guesses that were refined through two different iteration algorithms. The coarse-graining scheme was validated by comparing the aggregation of POSS molecules observed in simulations of the coarse-grained model to that observed in all-atom simulations containing explicit solvent. At 300 K the effective coarse-grained potentials obtained from different initial guesses are comparable to each other. At 400 K the differences between the force fields obtained from different initial guesses, although small, are noticeable. The use of a different iteration algorithm employing identical initial guesses resulted in the same overall effective potentials for bare cube corner bead sites. In both the coarse-grained and all-atom simulations, small aggregates of POSS molecules were observed with similar local packings of the silsesquioxane cages and tether conformations. The coarse-grained model afforded a savings in computing time of roughly two orders of magnitude. Further comparisons were made between the coarse-grained monotethered POSS model developed here and a minimal model developed in earlier work. The results suggest that the interactions between POSS cages are long ranged and are captured by the coarse-grained model developed here. The minimal model is suitable for capturing the local intermolecular packing of POSS cubes at short separation distances.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114102
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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