Surface roughness directed self-assembly of patchy particles into colloidal micelles

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Daniela J. Kraft, Ran Ni, Frank Smallenburg

"Surface roughness directed self-assembly of patchy particles into colloidal micelles"

Entry by Fei Pu, AP 225, Fall 2012

Keywords: self assembly, colloids, Monte Carlo, Micelles, Particles


This articles describes how self-assembly of colloidal particles into larger structures has potential for creating materials with unprecedented properties, such as full photonic band gaps in the visible spectrum. Colloidal particles with site-specific directional interactions, so called patchy particles, are promising candidates for bottom-up assembly routes.

An experiment with patchy colloidal particles was done based on independent surface roughness specific interactions. Smooth patches on rough colloids are shown to be exclusively attractive due to their different overlap volumes. The article discusses in detail the case of colloids with one patch that serves as a model for molecular surfactants with respect to their geometry and their interactions. These one-patch particles assemble into clusters that resemble surfactant micelles, called colloidal micelles. Similarities as well as differences between the colloidal model system and molecular surfactants are also discussed and quantified by employing computational and theoretical models.

Materials and Methods

Colloidal particles consisting of one smooth and one rough sphere were synthesized following a modified synthesis by Kim et al. (27). Roughness on the seed particles was obtained through adsorption of polystyrene particles nucleated during polymerization. The synthesized colloids were washed and redispersed in 0.3% w∕w aqueous polyvinyl alcohol (Mw ¼ 30–50 kg∕mol).

Monte Carlo simulations were used in the canonical ensemble (NVT) to calculate the probability distribution of the cluster. Also, The free energy of clusters of different sizes was calculated using grand-canonical Monte Carlo (GCMC) simulations on single clusters (41).


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