Formation and Drying of Colloidal Crystals Using Nanosized Silica Particles
Much interest has been generated in the fabrication of colloidal crystals from suspensions because of the promise of photonic band gap applications. However, since the case of small, nonsedimenting colloidal particles indeed remains rather rarely treated, spherical silica particles with diameters varying from 75 down to 20 nm have been used in the present work to fabricate colloidal crystals by drying the suspending liquid. Typical events that take place during the drying process of a particulate film, such as cracking, compaction and penetration of air into a porous network,have been evaluated using existing theories, and the maximum stress in the drying film could be approximated. Investigation on the dry film structure by scanning electron microscopy showed the arrangement of particles in a close-packed system. To interpret the formation of such crystals, the amplitudes of the interparticle and capillary forces have been estimated from existing models. The repulsive interparticle forces allow the particles to remain stable and thus rearrange up to fairly high particle concentration. These modeling results showed the dominance of the capillary contribution at the end of the drying process. Nitrogen adsorption/desorption measurements gave very coherent results regarding both pore volume and pore size of the dry particulate films when compared to the expected ordered packing arrangements.