Binary colloidal crystals offer great potential for tuning material properties for applications in, for example, photonics, semiconductors and spintronics, because they allow the positioning of particles with quite different characteristics on one lattice. For micrometer-sized colloids, it is believed that gravity and slow crystallization rates hinder the formation of high-quality binary crystals. Here, we present methods for growing binary colloidal crystals with a NaCl structure from relatively heavy, hard-sphere-like, micrometer-sized silica particles by exploring the following external fields: electric, gravitational, and dielectrophoretic fields and a structured surface (colloidal epitaxy). Our simulations show that the free-energy difference between the NaCl and NiAs structures, which differ in their stacking of the hexagonal planes of the larger spheres, is very small (approximate to 0.002 k(B)T). However, we demonstrate that the fcc stacking of the large spheres, which is crucial for obtaining the pure NaCl structure, can be favored by using a combination of the above-mentioned external fields. In this way, we have successfully fabricated large, 3D, oriented single crystals having a NaCl structure without stacking disorder.
- colloidal materials
- photonic crystals
- surface patternings (epitaxy)
- HARD-SPHERE MIXTURES
- NANOCRYSTAL SUPERLATTICES