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Directing the self-assembly of nanometer- and micron-scale colloids has the potential to impact the development of new materials with applications in nanoelectronics, optics, sensors, separations, drug delivery and catalysis. However, the ability to design and assemble complex structures from colloidal particles is still limited by the absence of specific directional bonds.  To solve this complex challenge, the Weck group is designing novel anisotropic colloids with tunable and directional interactions.


Patchy colloids: Colloidal particles with "sticky patches" (patchy particle) can be used as building blocks for materials with complex or low-coordination structures. The sticky patches are decorated with recognition units such as DNA, protein and synthetic polymers, which could direct the self-assembly process of those particles. Patchy particles with prescribed symmetries (trigonal, tetrahedral) are expected to generate networks of colloidal particles with symmetries that reflect the local symmetry of the sticky patches. This work is part of NYU MRSEC program and in collaboration with the group of Professor Pine (NYU Physics).


In addition to patchy particle synthesis, the Weck group designs colloidal superstructures using physical and chemical patterning and confinement of anisotropic patchy particles. We demonstrate that monopatch particles can be assembled into patterned regions on substrate using capillary forces, with the potential to induce orientation control by adding directional bonding interactions to the patches. Furthermore, we investigate the use polymer pen lithography to create chemical templates for colloidal patterning, as well as direct solid-state patterning of particles. These methods, in conjunction with site-specific crosslinking, are intended to enable colloidal self- replication.