Colloidal crystallization is analogous to the crystallization in bulk atomic systems in various aspects, which has been explored as a model system. However, a real-time probing of the phenomenon still remains challenging. Here, a levitation system for a study of colloidal crystallization is demonstrated. Colloidal particles in a levitated droplet are gradually concentrated by isotropic evaporation of water from the surface of the droplet, resulting in crystallization. The structural change of the colloidal array during crystallization is investigated by simultaneously measuring the volume and reflectance spectra of the droplet. The crystal nucleates from the surface of the droplet at which the volume fraction exceeds the threshold and then the growth proceeds. The crystal growth behavior depends on the initial concentrations of colloidal particles and salts which determine the overall direction of crystal growth and interparticle spacing, respectively. The results show that a levitating bulk droplet has a great potential as a tool for in situ investigation of colloidal crystallization.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank Dr. Wonhyuk Jo in KRISS and Sang Hyuk Park in KAIST for technical support. This research was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) (NRF‐2014M3C1A8048818, NRF2014M1A7A1A01030128, and NRF‐2018M3A7B8060189) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) and Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS‐2017‐GP2017‐0029).
© 2020 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
- colloidal crystallization
- electrostatic levitation
- structural colors