Oriented attachment kinetics for rod-like particles at a flat surface: Buffon's needle at the nanoscale

Kartik Kamat, Pavithra M. Naullage, Valeria Molinero, Baron Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The adsorption of large rod-like molecules or crystallites on a flat crystal face, similar to Buffon's needle, requires the rods to "land,"with their binding sites in precise orientational alignment with matching sites on the surface. An example is provided by long, helical antifreeze proteins (AFPs), which bind at specific facets and orientations on the ice surface. The alignment constraint for adsorption, in combination with the loss in orientational freedom as the molecule diffuses toward the surface, results in an entropic barrier that hinders the adsorption. Prior kinetic models do not factor in the complete geometry of the molecule, nor explicitly enforce orientational constraints for adsorption. Here, we develop a diffusion-controlled adsorption theory for AFP molecules binding at specific orientations to flat ice surfaces. We formulate the diffusion equation with relevant boundary conditions and present analytical solutions to the attachment rate constant. The resulting rate constant is a function of the length and aspect ratio of the AFP, the distance threshold associated with binding, and solvent conditions such as temperature and viscosity. These results and methods of calculation may also be useful for predicting the kinetics of crystal growth through oriented attachment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number214113
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number21
StatePublished - Dec 7 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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