Mechanistic principles of colloidal crystal growth by evaporation-induced convective steering

Damien D. Brewer, Joshua Allen, Michael R. Miller, Juan M.De Santos, Satish Kumar, David J. Norris, Michael Tsapatsis, L. E. Scriven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


We simulate evaporation-driven self-assembly of colloidal crystals using an equivalent network model. Relationships between a regular hexagonally close-packed array of hard, monodisperse spheres, the associated pore space, and selectivity mechanisms for face-centered cubic microstructure propagation are described. By accounting for contact line rearrangement and evaporation at a series of exposed menisci, the equivalent network model describes creeping flow of solvent into and through a rigid colloidal crystal. Observations concerning colloidal crystal growth are interpreted in terms of the convective steering hypothesis, which posits that solvent flow into and through the pore space of the crystal may play a major role in colloidal self-assembly. Aspects of the convective steering and deposition of high- Peclet-number rigid spherical particles at a crystal boundary are inferred from spatially resolved solvent flow into the crystal. Gradients in local flow through boundary channels were predicted due to the channels spatial distribution relative to a pinned free surface contact line. On the basis of a uniform solvent and particle flux as the criterion for stability of a particular growth plane, these network simulations suggest the stability of a declining {311} crystal interface, a symmetry plane which exclusively propagates fcc microstructure. Network simulations of alternate crystal planes suggest preferential growth front evolution to the declining {311} interface, in consistent agreement with the proposed stability mechanism for preferential fcc microstructure propagation in convective assembly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13683-13693
Number of pages11
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2 2008


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