Shape Matters in Magnetic-Field-Assisted Assembly of Prolate Colloids

Shape Matters in Magnetic-Field-Assisted Assembly of Prolate Colloids

An anisotropic colloidal shape in combination with an externally tunable interaction potential results in a plethora of self-assembled structures with potential applications toward the fabrication of smart materials.

Here we present our investigation on the influence of an external magnetic field on the self-assembly of hematite-silica core–shell prolate colloids for two aspect ratios ρ = 2.9 and 3.69. Our study shows a rather counterintuitive but interesting phenomenon, where prolate colloids self-assemble into oblate liquid crystalline (LC) phases. With increasing concentration, particles with smaller ρ reveal a sequence of LC phases involving para-nematic, nematic, smectic, and oriented glass phases.

 The occurrence of a smectic phase for colloidal ellipsoids has been neither predicted nor reported before. Quantitative shape analysis of the particles together with extensive computer simulations indicate that in addition to ρ, a subtle deviation from the ideal ellipsoidal shape dictates the formation of this unusual sequence of field-induced structures. Particles with ρ = 2.9 exhibit a hybrid shape containing features from both spherocylinders and ellipsoids, which make their self-assembly behavior richer than that observed for either of the “pure” shapes.

The shape of the particles with higher ρ matches closely with the ideal ellipsoids, as a result their phase behavior follows the one expected for a “pure” ellipsoidal shape. Using anisotropic building blocks and external fields, our study demonstrates the ramifications of the subtle changes in the particle shape on the field-directed self-assembled structures with externally tunable properties. ACS Nano.

Antara Pal, Carlo Andrea De Filippo, Thiago Ito, Md. Arif Kamal, Andrei V. Petukhov, Cristiano De Michele, Peter Schurtenberger

ACS Nano


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