Colloidal synthesis is a powerful bottom-up approach for programmed self-assembly which holds promise for both research and industry. While diverse, each synthetic process is typically restricted to a specific chemistry. Many applications however require composite materials, whereas a chemical equilibrium can typically only match one material but not the other. Here, a scalable general approach is presented, alleviating the dependency on a specific chemical reaction, by resorting to a mechanical equilibrium; an isopycnic density-gradient-step is tailored to form clusters with prescribed composition. Valence control is demonstrated, making dimers, trimers, and tetramers with purity as high as 96%. The measured kinetics shows a scaleable throughput. The density gradient step plays a dual role of both filtering out undesired products and concentrating the target structures. The "Mix-and-Match" approach is general, and applies to a broad range of colloidal matter: diverse material compositions (plastics, glasses, and emulsions); a range of colloidal interactions (van der Waals, Coulomb, and DNA hybridization); and a spectrum of sizes (nanoscale to multiple micrometers). Finally, the strength of the method is displayed by producing a monodisperse suspension from a highly polydisperse emulsion. The ability to combine colloids into architectures of hybrid materials has applications in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and photonics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics