Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Light-driven crystallization of polystyrene micro-spheres

Jing Liu and Zhi-Yuan Li

We investigate the dynamic crystallization processes of colloidal photonic crystals, which are potentially invaluable for solving a number of existing and emerging technical problems in regards to controlled fabrication of crystals, such as size normalization, stability improvement, and acceleration of synthesis. In this paper, we report systematic high-resolution optical observation of the spontaneous crystallization of monodisperse polystyrene (PS) micro-spheres in aqueous solution into close-packed arrays in a static line optical tweezers. The experiments demonstrate that the crystal structure is mainly affected by the minimum potential energy of the system; however, the crystallization dynamics could be affected by various mechanical, physical, and geometric factors. The complicated dynamic transformation process from 1D crystallization to 2D crystallization and the creation and annihilation of dislocations and defects via crystal relaxation are clearly illustrated. Two major crystal growth modes, the epitaxy growth pattern and the inserted growth pattern, have been identified to play a key role in shaping the dynamics of the 1D and 2D crystallization process. These observations offer invaluable insights for in-depth research about colloidal crystal crystallization.

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