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Fast Formation of Opal-like Columnar Colloidal Crystals

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Van't Hoff Laboratory for Physical and Colloid Chemistry, Utrecht University, Padualaan 8, 3584 CH Utrecht, The Netherlands
Cite this: Langmuir 2007, 23, 23, 11343–11346
Publication Date (Web):August 31, 2007
Copyright © 2007 American Chemical Society

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    We demonstrate that highly polydisperse colloidal gibbsite platelets easily form an opal-like columnar crystal with striking iridescent Bragg reflections. The formation process can be accelerated by orders of magnitude under a centrifugation force of 900g without arresting the system in a disordered glassy phase. Using transmission electron microscopy and small-angle X-ray scattering techniques, we find that the forced sedimentation is accompanied by particle size fractionation, leading to inversion of the iridescent colors. The relatively easy self-organization of the polydisperse colloidal particles into opal-like crystals may be explained on the basis of the observed particle fractionation and possibly also on hexatic-like ordering.

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     To whom correspondence should be addressed. Present address:  Albemarle Catalysts Company B.V., Nieuwendammerkade 1-3, 1022 AB Amsterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail:  [email protected].

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