Mix-and-Melt Colloidal Engineering

Theodore Hueckel, Stefano Sacanna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasing significance is being placed on the synthesis of smart colloidal particles, since the route to various meta-materials has been outlined through their bottom-up self-assembly. Unfortunately, making particles with well-defined shape and surface chemistry often requires considerable effort and time, and as such, they are available only in restrictive yields. Here we report a synthetic methodology, which we refer to as mix-and-melt reactions (MMR), that allows for rapid prototyping and mass production of anisotropic core-shell colloids. MMR take advantage of the synergistic properties between common colloidal suspensions by aggregating then reconfiguring polystyrene shell particles onto core particle substrates. By systematically exchanging cores and shells, the resultant core-shell particle's properties are manipulated in a modular fashion. The influence of the constituent particles' size ratio is extensively explored, which is shown to tune shell thickness, change the aspect ratio of shells on anisotropic cores, and access specific shapes such as tetrahedra. Beyond particle shape, mixed shell systems are utilized to create regular surface patches. Surface Evolver simulations are used to demonstrate how randomly packed clusters melt into regular shapes via a shell compartmentalization mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3533-3540
Number of pages8
JournalACS nano
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 24 2018


  • anisotropic colloids
  • core-shell
  • patchy particles
  • self-assembly
  • shape-changing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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