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Adv Sci (Weinh). 2016 Apr 25;3(6):1600012. eCollection 2016 Jun.

Designing Colloidal Molecules with Microfluidics.

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MMN ESPCI UMR Gulliver 10 rue Vauquelin 75005 Paris France.
UMR 3299 CEA/CNRS NIMBE-LIONS CEA Saclay 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette France.


The creation of new colloidal materials involves the design of functional building blocks. Here, a microfluidic method for designing building blocks one by one, at high throughput, with a broad range of shapes is introduced. The method exploits a coupling between hydrodynamic interactions and depletion forces that controls the configurational dynamics of droplet clusters traveling in microfluidic channels. Droplet clusters can be solidified in situ with UV. By varying the flow parameters, clusters are prescribed a given size, geometry, chemical and/or magnetic heterogeneities enabling local bonding. Compact structures (chains, triangles, diamonds, tetrahedrons,...) and noncompact structures, such as crosses and T, difficult to obtain with current techniques are produced. Size dispersions are small (2%) and throughputs are high (30 000 h-1). The work opens a new pathway, based on microfluidics, for designing colloidal building blocks with a potential to enable the creation of new materials.


building blocks; colloidal molecules; high throughput; microfluidics; self‐assembly

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