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Langmuir. 2012 Apr 24;28(16):6546-50. doi: 10.1021/la204493m. Epub 2012 Apr 10.

Directed orientation of asymmetric composite dumbbells by electric field induced assembly.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Tohoku University , 6-6-07 Aoba, Aramaki-aza Aoba-ku, Sendai, 980-8579, Japan.


Assembly and directed orientation of anisotropic particles with an external ac electric field in a range from 1 kHz to 2 MHz were studied for asymmetric composite dumbbells incorporating a silica, titania, or titania/silica (titania:silica = 75:25 vol %) sphere. The asymmetric composite dumbbells, which were composed of a polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)-coated sphere (core-shell part) and a polystyrene (PSt) lobe, were synthesized with a soap-free emulsion polymerization to prepare PMMA-coated inorganic spheres and another soap-free emulsion polymerization to form a polystyrene (PSt) lobe from the PMMA-coated inorganic spheres. The composite dumbbells dispersed in water were directly observed with optical microscopy. The dumbbells incorporating a silica sphere oriented parallel to an electric field in the whole frequency range and they formed a pearl chain structure at a high frequency of 2 MHz. The titania-incorporated dumbbells formed chain structures, in which they contacted their core-shell parts and oriented perpendicularly to a low-frequency (kHz) field, whereas they oriented parallel to a high-frequency (MHz) field. Since the alignment of dumbbells in the chains depends not only on the interparticle forces but also on the torque that the induced dipoles in the dumbbells experience in the electric field, the orientation of dumbbells perpendicular to the electric field was the case dominated by the interparticle force, whereas the other orientation was the case dominated by the torque. The present experiments show that the incorporation of inorganic dumbbells is an effective way to control the assembled structure and orientation with an electric field.


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