We studied the formation of supraparticles from nanocrystals confined in slowly evaporating oil droplets in an oil-in-water emulsion. The nanocrystals consist of an FeO core, a CoFe2O4 shell, and oleate capping ligands, with an overall diameter of 12.5 nm. We performed in situ small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering experiments during the entire period of solvent evaporation and colloidal crystallization. We observed a slow increase in the volume fraction of nanocrystals inside the oil droplets up to 20%, at which a sudden crystallization occurs. Our computer simulations show that crystallization at such a low volume fraction is only possible if attractive interactions between colloidal nanocrystals are taken into account in the model as well. The spherical supraparticles have a diameter of about 700 nm and consist of a few crystalline face-centered cubic domains. Nanocrystal supraparticles bear importance for magnetic and optoelectronic applications, such as color tunable biolabels, color tunable phosphors in LEDs, and miniaturized lasers.
- Colloidal nanocrystals
- in situ small-/wide-angle X-ray scattering
- spherical confinement