Self-assembled nanostructures

We are interested in understanding self-assembly of colloidal particles into ordered structures. In particular, we demonstrated pattern formations during the drying of a sheet of an aqueous suspension of nanospheres. The structures self-assembled by nanospheres span several centimeters and exhibit order at scales ranging from nanometers to centimeters, despite the fact that the substrate has no predefined pattern. Within these structures, several regular patterns form including two-dimensional periodic gratings generated by crack networks with a characteristic spatial frequency linearly depending on the evaporation speed. This phenomenon potentially provides a simple and inexpensive method to grow structures having unique electromagnetic and/or biological properties. For example, the process may potentially be used for the fabrication of frequency-selective surfaces (FSS) that are self-assembled as opposed to engineered. Such self-assembled films could be an inexpensive means to realize tailored FSS filtering and surface-wave suppression action over bandwidths from microwaves to visible light in a single film. The self-assembled structures may also find application as ultra-large self-assembled nanoparticle biosensor arrays for genomics and proteomics applications.

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Backman's Biophotonics Laboratory at Northwestern University

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