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Keywords:

  • colloids;
  • monolayers;
  • self-assembly;
  • surface patterning;
  • colloid lithography

Abstract

Colloidal monolayers with high order and increased complexity beyond plain hexagonal packing geometries are useful for 2D templating of surface nanostructures and lithographic applications. Here, binary colloidal monolayers featuring a close-packed monolayer of large spheres (L) with a superlattice of small particles (S) are prepared in a single step using a Langmuir trough. Adjustment of the stoichiometry of the two particle types at the air–water interface leads to a high degree of control over the occupation of the interstitial sites in the close-packed layer of large spheres by the small colloids. Thus, large areas of binary 2D crystals with LS2, LS6, and LS9 structures are fabricated in a controlled way. The process allows the formation of binary crystals over a wide range of particle size ratios from 0.19 to 0.40. The pH value of the subphase can be used to enhance the crystallization process by changing the contact angle of the particles at the interface. An interfacial polymerization of butyl cyanoacrylate is used to directly image the contact angle of the colloids at the interface. Transfer to solid substrates is achieved by a surface lowering technique. A variety of substrates with arbitrary topographies can thus be decorated with colloidal monolayers. Applied to a lithographic process, such monolayer architectures allow the generation of complex patterns, not accessible with conventional close-packed monolayers.