Equilibrium Shape of Colloidal Crystals

RM Sehgal and D Maroudas, LANGMUIR, 31, 11428-11437 (2015).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.5b02952

Assembling colloidal particles into highly ordered configurations, such as photonic crystals, has significant potential for enabling a broad range of new technologies. Facilitating the nucleation of colloidal crystals and developing successful crystal growth strategies require a fundamental understanding of the equilibrium structure and morphology of small colloidal assemblies. Here, we report the results of a novel computational approach to determine the equilibrium shape of assemblies of colloidal particles that interact via an experimentally validated pair potential. While the well-known Wulff construction can accurately capture the equilibrium shape of large colloidal assemblies, containing O(10(4)) or more particles, determining the equilibrium shape of small colloidal assemblies of O(10) particles requires a generalized Wulff construction technique which we have developed for a proper description of equilibrium structure and morphology of small crystals. We identify and characterize fully several "magic" clusters which are significantly more stable than other similarly sized clusters.

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