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J Phys Condens Matter. 2011 Mar 2;23(8):083001. doi: 10.1088/0953-8984/23/8/083001. Epub 2011 Feb 3.

Dewetting-mediated pattern formation in nanoparticle assemblies.

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School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK.


The deposition of nanoparticles from solution onto solid substrates is a diverse subfield of current nanoscience research. Complex physical and chemical processes underpin the self-assembly and self-organization of colloidal nanoparticles at two-phase (solid-liquid, liquid-air) interfaces and three-phase (solid-liquid-air) contact lines. This review discusses key recent advances made in the understanding of nonequilibrium dewetting processes of nanoparticle-containing solutions, detailing how such an apparently simple experimental system can give rise to such a strikingly varied palette of two-dimensional self-organized nanoparticle array morphologies. Patterns discussed include worm-like domains, cellular networks, microscale rings, and fractal-like fingering structures. There remain many unresolved issues regarding the role of the solvent dewetting dynamics in assembly processes of this type, with a significant focus on how dewetting can be coerced to produce nanoparticle arrays with desirable characteristics such as long-range order. In addition to these topics, methods developed to control nanofluid dewetting through routes such as confining the geometries of drying solutions, depositing onto pre-patterned heterogeneous substrates, and post-dewetting pattern evolution via local or global manipulation are covered.

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