Electric-Field Assisted Assembly of Colloidal Particles into Ordered Nonclose-Packed Arrays

2017-05-17T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Jingjing Gong Ning Wu
Nonclose-packed colloidal arrays have many potential applications ranging from plasmonic sensors, light trapping for photovoltaics, to transparent electrodes. However, scalable fabrication of those structures remains a challenge. In this Article, we investigate the robustness of an electric-field assisted approach systematically. A monolayer of nonclose-packed crystalline array is first created under a low-frequency alternating-current electric field in solution. We then apply a sequence of direct-current pulses to fix the particle array onto the substrate so that it remains intact even after both field removal and solvent evaporation. Key process parameters such as the alternating-current field strength, direct-current magnitude, particle concentration, and solvent-evaporation rate that affect both ordering and fixing of colloidal particles have been studied systematically. We find that direct currents with an intermediate magnitude induce electrophoretic motion of particles toward the substrate and facilitate their permanent adhesion on the substrate due to strong van der Waals attraction. A higher current, however, causes lateral aggregation of particles arising from electroosmotic flow of solvent and destroys the periodic ordering between particles. This approach, in principle, can be conveniently adapted into the continuous convective assembly process, thus making the fabrication of nonclose-packed colloidal arrays scalable.