Self-Assembly of Octapod-Shaped Colloidal Nanocrystals into a Hexagonal Ballerina Network Embedded in a Thin Polymer Film

Milena P. Arciniegas, Mee R. Kim, Joost De Graaf, Rosaria Brescia, Sergio Marras, Karol Miszta, Marjolein Dijkstra, Rene van Roij, Liberato Manna*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nanoparticles with unconventional shapes may exhibit different types of assembly architectures that depend critically on the environmental conditions under which they are formed. Here, we demonstrate how the presence of polymer (polymethyl methacrylate, PMMA) molecules in a solution, in which CdSe(core)/CdS(pods) octapods are initially dispersed, affects the octapod-polymer organization upon solvent evaporation. We show that a fast drop-drying process can induce a remarkable two-dimensional (2D) self-assembly of octapods at the polymer/air interface. In the resulting structure, each octapod is oriented like a "ballerina", that is, only one pod sticks out of the polymer film and is perpendicular to the polymer air interface, while the opposite pod (with respect to the octapod's center) is fully immersed in the film and points toward the substrate, like a ballerina performing a grand battement. In some areas, a hexagonal-like pattern is formed by the ballerinas in which the six nonvertical pods, which are all embedded in the film, maintain a pod pod parallel configuration with respect to neighboring particles. We hypothesize that the mechanism responsible for such a self-assembly is based on a fast adsorption of the octapods from bulk solution to the droplet/air interface during the early stages of solvent evaporation. At this interface, the octapods maintain enough rotational freedom to organize mutually in a pod-pod parallel configuration between neighboring octapods. As the solvent evaporates, the octapods form a ballerina-rich octapod-polymer composite in which the octapods are in close contact with the substrate. Finally, we found that the resulting octapod-polymer composite is less hydrophilic than the, polymer-only film.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1056-1063
Number of pages8
JournalNano Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2014


  • Octapods
  • self-assembly
  • interface adsorption
  • polymer
  • nanocomposite


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