Impact of interaction range and curvature on crystal growth of particles confined to spherical surfaces

S Paquay and GJ Both and P van der Schoot, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 96, 012611 (2017).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.96.012611

When colloidal particles form a crystal phase on a spherical template, their packing is governed by the effective interaction between them and the elastic strain of bending the growing crystal. For example, if growth commences under appropriate conditions, and the isotropic crystal that forms reaches a critical size, growth continues via the incorporation of defects to alleviate elastic strain. Recently, it was experimentally found that, if defect formation is somehow not possible, the crystal instead continues growing in ribbons that protrude from the original crystal. Here we report on computer simulations in which we observe both the formation of ribbons at short interaction ranges and packings that incorporate defects if the interaction is longer-ranged. The ribbons only form above some critical crystal size, below which the nucleus is disk-shaped. We find that the scaling of the critical crystal size differs slightly from the one proposed in the literature, and we argue that this is because the actual morphology transition is caused by the competition between line tension and elastic stress, rather than the competition between chemical potential and elastic stress.

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