Research ArticleCOLLOIDS

Opto-thermophoretic assembly of colloidal matter

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Science Advances  08 Sep 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 9, e1700458
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700458

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Colloidal matter exhibits unique collective behaviors beyond what occurs at single-nanoparticle and atomic scales. Treating colloidal particles as building blocks, researchers are exploiting new strategies to rationally organize colloidal particles into complex structures for new functions and devices. Despite tremendous progress in directed assembly and self-assembly, a truly versatile assembly technique without specific functionalization of the colloidal particles remains elusive. We develop a new strategy to assemble colloidal matter under a light-controlled temperature field, which can solve challenges in the existing assembly techniques. By adding an anionic surfactant (that is, cetyltrimethylammonium chloride), which serves as a surface charge source, a macro ion, and a micellar depletant, we generate a light-controlled thermoelectric field to manipulate colloidal atoms and a depletion attraction force to assemble the colloidal atoms into two-dimensional (2D) colloidal matter. The general applicability of this opto-thermophoretic assembly (OTA) strategy allows us to build colloidal matter of diverse colloidal sizes (from subwavelength scale to micrometer scale) and materials (polymeric, dielectric, and metallic colloids) with versatile configurations and tunable bonding strengths and lengths. We further demonstrate that the incorporation of the thermoelectric field into the optical radiation force can achieve 3D reconfiguration of the colloidal matter. The OTA strategy releases the rigorous design rules required in the existing assembly techniques and enriches the structural complexity in colloidal matter, which will open a new window of opportunities for basic research on matter organization, advanced material design, and applications.

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