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Template-Assisted Self-Assembly of Spherical Colloids into Complex and Controllable Structures


  • This work was supported in part by the Office of Naval Research (N00014-01-1-0976), a Career Award from the National Science Foundation (DMR-9983893), and a Fellowship from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Y. X. is an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow (2000) and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher Scholar (2002). Y. Y. and Y. L. thank the Center for Nanotechnology at the UW for two Graduate Fellowship Awards. J. M. thanks the Center for Nanotechnology at the UW for the Nanotech Early Bird Award funded by the IGERT program of the National Science Foundation (DGE-9987620).


Colloidal aggregates with well-controlled sizes, shapes, and structures have been fabricated by dewetting aqueous dispersions of monodispersed spherical colloids across surfaces patterned with two-dimensional arrays of relief structures (or templates). The capability and feasibility of this approach have been demonstrated with the organization of polymer latex or silica beads into homo-aggregates, including circular rings; polygonal and polyhedral clusters; and linear, zigzag, and spiral chains. It was also possible to generate hetero-aggregates in the configuration of HF and H2O molecules that contained spherical colloids of different sizes, compositions, densities, functions, or a combination of these features. These uniform, well-defined aggregates of spherical colloids are ideal model systems to investigate the aerodynamic, hydrodynamic, and optical properties of colloidal particles characterized by non-spherical shapes and/or complex topologies. They can also serve as a new class of building blocks to generate hierarchically self-assembled structures that are expected to exhibit interesting features valuable to areas ranging from condensed matter physics to photonics.

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