Observation of solid-solid transitions in 3D crystals of colloidal superballs

J.M. Meijer, A. Pal, S. Ouhajji, H.N.W. Lekkerkerker, A.P. Philipse, A.V. Petukhov

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Self-organization in anisotropic colloidal suspensions leads to a fascinating range of crystal and liquid crystal phases induced by shape alone. Simulations predict the phase behaviour of a plethora of shapes while experimental realization often lags behind. Here, we present the experimental phase behaviour of superball particles with a shape in between that of a sphere and a cube. In particular, we observe the formation of a plastic crystal phase with translational order and orientational disorder, and the subsequent transformation into rhombohedral crystals. Moreover, we uncover that the phase behaviour is richer than predicted, as we find two distinct rhombohedral crystals with different stacking variants, namely hollow-site and bridge-site stacking. In addition, for slightly softer interactions we observe a solid-solid transition between the two. Our investigation brings us one step closer to ultimately controlling the experimental self-assembly of superballs into functional materials, such as photonic crystals.

Originele taal-2Engels
Artikelnummer14352
Aantal pagina's8
TijdschriftNature Communications
Volume8
DOI's
StatusGepubliceerd - 10 feb 2017

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