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J Chem Phys. 2007 Jun 28;126(24):244702.

Imaging energy landscapes with concentrated diffusing colloidal probes.

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  • 1Department of Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843, USA.


The ability to locally interrogate interactions between particles and energetically patterned surfaces provides essential information to design, control, and optimize template directed self-assembly processes. Although numerous techniques are capable of characterizing local physicochemical surface properties, no current method resolves interactions between colloids and patterned surfaces on the order of the thermal energy kT, which is the inherent energy scale of equilibrium self-assembly processes. Here, the authors describe video microscopy measurements and an inverse Monte Carlo analysis of diffusing colloidal probes as a means to image three dimensional free energy and potential energy landscapes due to physically patterned surfaces. In addition, they also develop a consistent analysis of self-diffusion in inhomogeneous fluids of concentrated diffusing probes on energy landscapes, which is important to the temporal imaging process and to self-assembly kinetics. Extension of the concepts developed in this work suggests a general strategy to image multidimensional and multiscale physical, chemical, and biological surfaces using a variety of diffusing probes (i.e., molecules, macromolecules, nanoparticles, and colloids).

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