Interfacial colloidal particle films and their structure formation

Sammanfattning: Abstract to“Interfacial colloidal particle films andtheir structure formation”; a licentiate thesis, whichwill be presented by Sandra Rödner in Q2, 29 November 2002at 13.00.Colloidal particles can be made to organise themselves intoordered arrays. These colloidal structures acquire interestingand useful properties, not only from their constituentmaterials but also from the spontaneous emergence of mesoscopicorder that characterises their internal structure. Orderedarrays of colloidal particles, with lattice constants rangingfrom a few nanometers to a few microns, have potentialapplications as optical computing elements and chemicalsensors, and also has an important influence on the mechanicalproperties and optical appearance of paint films and papercoatings.The control of colloidal structure formation starts with theparticle interactions (attractive or repulsive) and colloidaldynamics, which is the topic of this thesis. To enable adetailed understanding of the different factors that controlthe formation of dense 2D colloidal films, a method forstructural characterisation was developed. The degree of orderin the hexagonal close-packed structure, displayed by thecolloidal films, was characterised by the size of ordereddomains and by the distribution of pore sizes. The size ofordered domains was obtained from the pair distributionfunction, and the distribution of pores from a Delaunaytriangulation procedure. These methods are based on theparticle positions in the film, which were determined by lightmicroscopy and processed digital images.The two methods were used to study the effect of particleinteractions on the structure of colloidal monoparticulatefilms, formed at the air-liquid interface. The size of theordered domains decreased exponentially with increasing bondstrength, while the pore density increased. The transfer andsubsequent drying of the formed film on a solid substrateinduced structural changes; the capillary forces transformedsmall pores into triangular order while some of the largervoids and cracks increased in size.The structural features of colloidal monolayers, formed bydrying a dilute silica suspension on a substrate, wereinvestigated. Addition of small amounts of salt resulted indrastic changes of the particle film structure. The size of theordered domains decreased exponentially with increasing amountsof added salt (0-2.9% NaCl/Silica ratio), with a simultaneousincrease of the concentration of large defects. This suggeststhat loss of colloidal stability and onset of particle adhesionto the substrate inhibit rearrangement and ordering. Theevaporation rate was controlled by varying the relativehumidity during drying. Colloidal monolayers with the largestordered domains and the lowest concentration of stacking faultswere formed at an intermediate humidity (55% RH).The rearrangement process during drying of dilute silicasuspensions was followed in detail by studying the changes inthe structural features during growth of colloidal monolayers.Low crystal growth rate promoted the transition of squarelattice domains to a hexagonal close-packed structure. Additionof salt to the electrostatically stabilised dispersionincreased the formation of square structured regions at thecrystal-suspension interface, due to increasing adhesion to thesubstrate. The loss of colloidal stability inhibited therearrangement process, resulting in higher concentrations ofsquare lattice domains at large distances from the crystal edgecompared to systems without added salt.