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      Role of particle aggregation on the structure of dried colloidal silica layers

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          Abstract

          The process of colloidal drying gives way to particle self-assembly in numerous elds including photonics or biotechnology. Yet, the mechanisms and conditions driving the nal particle arrangement in dry colloidal layers remain elusive. Here, we examine how the drying rate selects the nanostructure of thick dried layers in four dierent suspensions of silica nanospheres. Depending on particle size and dispersity, either an amorphous arrangement, a crystalline arrangement, or a rate-dependent amorphous-to-crystalline transition occurs at the drying surface. Amorphous arrangements are observed in the two most polydisperse suspensions while crystallinity occurs when dispersity is lower. Counter-intuitively in the latter case, a higher drying rate favors ordering of the particles. To complement these measurements and to take stock of the bulk properties of the layer, tests on the layer porosity were undertaken. For all suspensions studied herein, faster drying yields denser dry layers. Crystalline surface arrangement implies large bulk volume fraction (\(\sim\) 0.65) whereas amorphous arrangements can be observed in layers with either low (down to \(\sim\) 0.53) or high (\(\sim\) 0.65) volume fraction. Lastly, we demonstrate via targeted additional experiments and SAXS measurements, that the packing structure of the layers is mainly driven by the formation of aggregates and their subsequent packing, and not by the competition between Brownian diusion and convection. This highlights that a second dimensionless ratio in addition to the Peclet number should be taken into account, namely the aggregation over evaporation timescale.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          10 December 2020
          Article
          2012.05539
          a19e28d3-6596-4bc2-9e87-2644509572fa

          http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

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          Custom metadata
          cond-mat.soft
          ccsd

          Condensed matter
          Condensed matter

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