Soft spheres interacting via a hard core and a range of attractive and repulsive 'soft-shoulder' potentials self-assemble into clusters forming a variety of mesophases. We combine a mean-field theory developed from a lattice model with a level surface analysis of the periodic structures of soft-sphere aggregates to study stable morphologies for all clustering potentials. We develop a systematic approach to the thermodynamics of mesophase assembly in the low-temperature, strong-segregation and predict a generic sequence of phases including lamella, hexagonal-columnar and body-center cubic phases, as well as the associated inverse structures. We discuss the finite temperature corrections to strong segregation theory in terms of Sommerfeld-like expansion and how these corrections affect the thermodynamic stability of bicontinuous mesophase structures, such as gyroid. Finally, we explore the opposite limit of weakly-segregated particles, and predict the generic stability of a bicontinuous cluster morphology within the mean-field phase diagram.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics