Electric-Field-Induced Reversible Phase Transitions in Two-Dimensional Colloidal Crystals

Kelsey A. Collins, Xiao Zhong, Pengcheng Song, Neva R. Little, Michael D. Ward, Stephanie S. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two-dimensional colloidal crystals confined within electric field traps on the surface of a dielectrophoretic cell undergo reversible phase transitions that depend on the strength of the applied AC electric field. At low field strengths, the particles adopt a two-dimensional hexagonal close-packed lattice with p6m plane group symmetry and the maximum achievable packing fraction of φ = 0.91. Higher electric field strengths induce dipoles in the particles that provoke a phase transition to structures that depend on the number of particles confined in the trap. Whereas traps containing N = 24 particles transform to a square-packed lattice with p4m symmetry and φ = 0.79 is observed, traps of the same size containing N = 23 particles can also pack in a lattice with p2 symmetry and φ = 0.66. Traps with N = 21, 22, and 25 particles exhibit a mixture of packing structures, revealing the influence of lateral compressive forces, in addition to induced dipole interactions, in stabilizing loosely packed arrangements. These observations permit construction of a phase diagram based on adjustable parameters of electric field strength (0-750 V/cm) and particle number (N = 21-25).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10411-10417
Number of pages7
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 29 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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