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Colloidal crystals by electrospraying polystyrene nanofluids

Arnau Coll, Sandra Bermejo*, David Hernández and Luis Castañer

Author Affiliations

MNT, Electronic Engineering Department, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Jordi Girona 1-3, Barcelona, 08034, Spain

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2013, 8:26  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-8-26

Published: 12 January 2013


This work introduces the electrospray technique as a suitable option to fabricate large-scale colloidal nanostructures, including colloidal crystals, in just a few minutes. It is shown that by changing the deposition conditions, different metamaterials can be fabricated: from scattered monolayers of polystyrene nanospheres to self-assembled three-dimensional ordered nanolayers having colloidal crystal properties. The electrospray technique overcomes the main problems encountered by top-down fabrication approaches, largely simplifying the experimental setup. Polystyrene nanospheres, with 360-nm diameter, were typically electrosprayed using off-the-shelf nanofluids. Several parameters of the setup and deposition conditions were explored, namely the distance between electrodes, nanofluid conductivity, applied voltage, and deposition rate. Layers thicker than 20 μm and area of 1 cm2 were typically produced, showing several domains of tens of microns wide with dislocations in between, but no cracks. The applied voltage was in the range of 10 kV, and the conductivity of the colloidal solution was in the range of 3 to 4 mS. Besides the morphology of the layers, the quality was also assessed by means of optical reflectance measurements showing an 80% reflectivity peak in the vicinity of 950-nm wavelength.

Electrospray; Nanospheres; Colloidal crystal; Multilayer; Metamaterial