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Phys Rev Lett. 2007 Dec 31;99(26):268301. Epub 2007 Dec 28.

Directing colloidal self-assembly through roughness-controlled depletion attractions.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


The surfaces of colloidal particles resulting from many new fabrication methods are not molecularly smooth, so understanding how surface roughness can affect the depletion attraction between the particles and their assembly is very important. We show that the depletion attraction between custom-shaped microscale platelets can be suppressed when the nanoscale surface asperity heights become larger than the depletion agent. In the opposite limit, the attraction reappears and columnar stacks of platelets are formed. Exploiting this, we selectively increase the site-specific roughness on only one side of the platelets to direct the mass production of a single desired assembly: a pure dimer phase.

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