• Assembly;
  • Colloids;
  • Photonic crystals;
  • Silica


In colloidal suspensions of silica, particles undergo constant collisions. By controlling various parameters, the repulsive barrier can be reduced, thereby substantially increasing the number of collision-induced dimerization events. Xia and co-workers report on p. 1627 that the dimers could be arrested and then permanently fixed by introducing a small amount of fresh tetraethylorthosilicate into the colloidal suspension, with monodisperse dimer yields of up to 50 %. This yield could be increased to 80 % by centrifugation in a density gradient medium.

When fresh tetraethylorthosilicate is introduced into a colloidal suspension of silica spheres, it hydrolyzes and condenses in situ to arrest and fix the dimers resulting from constant collisions between the spheres. By optimizing the experimental parameters (including the length of aging time) and the diameter of the silica spheres, as well as the concentrations of counterions, water, and ammonia, it is possible to routinely produce monodisperse dimers with a yield as high as 50 %. When combined with centrifugation using a density gradient medium, the yield of such dimers could be further increased to 80 %. It is believed that this method will provide a simple and versatile approach to the high-volume production of dimers from spherical colloids composed of different materials. These dimers may find widespread use in a range of applications such as fabrication of photonic crystals and fundamental studies related to colloidal science.