We have studied the crystallization behavior of colloidal cubes by means of tunable depletion interactions. The colloidal system consists of novel micron-sized cubic particles prepared by silica deposition on hematite templates and various non-adsorbing water-soluble polymers as depletion agents. We have found that under certain conditions the cubes self-organize into crystals with a simple cubic symmetry, which is set by the size of the depletant. The dynamic of crystal nucleation and growth is investigated, monitoring the samples in time by optical microscopy. Furthermore, by using temperature sensitive microgel particles as depletant it is possible to fine tune depletion interactions to induce crystal melting. Assisting crystallization with an alternating electric field improves the uniformity of the cubic pattern allowing the preparation of macroscopic (almost defect-free) crystals that show visible Bragg colors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics