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J Am Chem Soc. 2001 Sep 12;123(36):8718-29.

Template-assisted self-assembly: a practical route to complex aggregates of monodispersed colloids with well-defined sizes, shapes, and structures.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-1700, USA.


This paper describes a strategy that combines physical templating and capillary forces to assemble monodispersed spherical colloids into uniform aggregates with well-controlled sizes, shapes, and structures. When an aqueous dispersion of colloidal particles was allowed to dewet from a solid surface that had been patterned with appropriate relief structures, the particles were trapped by the recessed regions and assembled into aggregates whose structures were determined by the geometric confinement provided by the templates. We have demonstrated the capability and feasibility of this approach by assembling polystyrene beads and silica colloids (> or =150 nm in diameter) into complex aggregates that include polygonal or polyhedral clusters, linear or zigzag chains, and circular rings. We have also been able to generate hybrid aggregates in the shape of HF or H2O molecules that are composed of polymer beads having different diameters, polymer beads labeled with different organic dyes, and a combination of polymeric and inorganic beads. These colloidal aggregates can serve as a useful model system to investigate the hydrodynamic and optical scattering properties of colloidal particles having nonspherical morphologies. They should also find use as the building blocks to generate hierarchically self-assembled systems that may exhibit interesting properties highly valuable to areas ranging from photonics to condensed matter physics.


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