Small (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany)

Dynamically Tuning Particle Interactions and Assemblies at Soft Interfaces: Reversible Order-Disorder Transitions in 2D Particle Monolayers.

PMID 26111371


Particles trapped at fluid interfaces experience long-range interactions that determine their assembly behavior. Because particle interactions at fluid interfaces tend to be unusually strong, once particles organize themselves into a 2D assembly, it is challenging to induce changes in their microstructure. In this report, a new approach is presented to induce reversible order-disorder transitions (ODTs) in the 2D monolayer of colloidal particles trapped at a soft gel-fluid interface. Particles at the soft interface, consisting of a nonpolar superphase and a weakly gelled subphase, initially form a monolayer with a highly ordered structure. The structure of this monolayer can be dynamically varied by the addition or removal of the oil phase. Upon removing the oil via evaporation, the initially ordered particle monolayer undergoes ODT, driven by capillary attractions. The ordered monolayer can be recovered through disorder-to-order transition by simply adding oil atop the particle-laden soft interface. The possibility to dynamically tune the interparticle interactions using soft interfaces can potentially enable control of the transport and mechanical properties of particle-laden interfaces and provide model systems to study particle-laden soft interfaces that are relevant to biological tissues or organs.