Materials Science

Template-Assisted Self-Assembly

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Science  31 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5535, pp. 1561
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5535.1561a

Colloidal particles are used in applications from paints and toners to cosmetics and photographic film. Use of spherical particles has dominated because their properties can be controlled relatively easily. However, for advanced applications, e.g., in optical materials, non-spherical particles may be more advantageous because they can form a wider range of crystal structures.

Now Yin et al. have developed an approach that allows the assembly of spherical colloids into complex-shaped aggregates. Photolithography is used to pattern a surface with geometric templates. When a dispersion containing colloidal polymer particles flows over the surface, the particles are trapped in the templates as the liquid drains away. Depending on the size and shape of the template, different assemblies may form, round, elongated, triangular, or hybrid-shaped particles. When the assemblies are thermally annealed, they remain stable after the template has been dissolved. The resulting structures may help in understanding the properties of nonspherical colloids and may also form building blocks to assemble mesostructured systems. — JU

J. Am. Chem. Soc. 10.1021/ja011048v.

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