Energy landscape and electric field mediated interfacial colloidal assembly
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Chemically and physically patterned surfaces can be used as templates to guide nano- and micro- scale particle assembly, but the design is often limited by an inability to sufficiently characterize how pattern features influence local particle-surface interactions on the order of thermal energy, kT. The research outlined in this dissertation describes comprehensive optical microscopy (i.e. evanescent wave, video) measurements and analyses of many-body and multi-dimensional interactions, dynamics and structure in inhomogeneous colloidal fluid systems. In particular, I demonstrate how non-intrusive observation of an ensemble of particles diffusing past each other and over a physically patterned surface topography can be used to obtain sensitive images of energy landscape features. I also link diffusing colloidal probe dynamics to energy landscape features, which is important for understanding the temporal imaging process and self-assembly kinetics. A complementary effort in this dissertation investigated the use of external AC electric fields to reversibly tune colloidal interactions to produce metastable ordered configurations. In addition, the electrical impedance spectra associated with colloidal assemblies formed between interfacial microelectrode gaps was measured and consistently modelled using representative equivalent circuits. Significant results from this dissertation include the synergistic use of the very same colloids as both imaging probes and building blocks in feedback controlled selfassembly on patterns. Cycling the AC field frequencies was found to be an effective way to anneal equilibrium colloidal configurations. Quantitative predictions of dominant transport mechanisms as a function of AC electric field amplitude and frequency were able to consistently explain the steady-state colloidal microstructures formed within electrode gaps observed using video microscopy. A functional electrical switch using gold nanoparticles was realized by reversibly forming and breaking colloidal wires between electrode gaps. Extension of the concepts developed in this dissertation suggest a general strategy to engineer the assembly of colloidal particles into ordered materials and controllable devices that provide the basis for numerous emerging technologies (e.g. photonic crystals, nanowires, reconfigurable antennas, biomimetic materials).
Bahukudumbi, Pradipkumar (2003). Energy landscape and electric field mediated interfacial colloidal assembly. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from