Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Imprintable membranes from incomplete chiral coalescence

Mark J. Zakhary, Thomas Gibaud, C. Nadir Kaplan, Edward Barry, Rudolf Oldenbourg, Robert B. Meyer & Zvonimir Dogic

Coalescence is an essential phenomenon that governs the equilibrium behaviour in a variety of systems from intercellular transport to planetary formation. In this report, we study coalescence pathways of circularly shaped two-dimensional colloidal membranes, which are one rod-length-thick liquid-like monolayers of aligned rods. The chirality of the constituent rods leads to three atypical coalescence pathways that are not found in other simple or complex fluids. In particular, we characterize two pathways that do not proceed to completion but instead produce partially joined membranes connected by line defects—π-wall defects or alternating arrays of twisted bridges and pores. We elucidate the structure and energetics of these defects and ascribe their stability to a geometrical frustration inherently present in chiral colloidal membranes. Furthermore, we induce the coalescence process with optical forces, leading to a robust on-demand method for imprinting networks of channels and pores into colloidal membranes.

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