Solvent mediated assembly of nanoparticles confined in mesoporous alumina
The controlled self-assembly of thiol stabilized gold nanocrystals in a mediating solvent and confined within mesoporous alumina was probed in situ with small angle x-ray scattering. The evolution of the self-assembly process was controlled reversibly via regulated changes in the amount of solvent condensed from an undersaturated vapor. Analysis indicated that the nanoparticles self-assembled into cylindrical monolayers within the porous template. Nanoparticle nearest-neighbor separation within the monolayer increased and the ordering decreased with the controlled addition of solvent. The process was reversible with the removal of solvent. Isotropic clusters of nanoparticles were also observed to form temporarily during desorption of the liquid solvent and disappeared upon complete removal of liquid. Measurements of the absorption and desorption of the solvent showed strong hysteresis upon thermal cycling. In addition, the capillary filling transition for the solvent in the nanoparticle-doped pores was shifted to larger chemical potential, relative to the liquid/vapor coexistence, by a factor of 4 as compared to the expected value for the same system without nanoparticles.