Liquid crystal order in colloidal suspensions of spheroidal particles by direct current electric field assembly

Aayush A. Shah, Heekyoung Kang, Kevin L. Kohlstedt, Kyung Hyun Ahn, Sharon C. Glotzer, Charles W. Monroe, Michael J. Solomon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


DC electric fields are used to produce colloidal assemblies with orientational and layered positional order from a dilute suspension of spheroidal particles. These 3D assemblies, which can be visualized in situ by confocal microscopy, are achieved in short time spans (t < 1 h) by the application of a constant voltage across the capacitor-like device. This method yields denser and more ordered assemblies than had been previously reported with other assembly methods. Structures with a high degree of orientational order as well as layered positional order normal to the electrode surface are observed. These colloidal structures are explained as a consequence of electrophoretic deposition and field-assisted assembly. The interplay between the deposition rate and the rotational Brownian motion is found to be critical for the optimal ordering, which occurs when these rates, as quantified by the Peclet number, are of order one. The results suggest that the mechanism leading to ordering is equilibrium self-assembly but with kinetics dramatically accelerated by the application of the DC electric field. Finally, the crystalline symmetry of the densest structure formed is determined and compared with previously studied spheroidal assemblies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1551-1562
Number of pages12
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 21 2012


  • colloidal materials
  • field-assisted assembly
  • rod liquid crystal phase
  • self-assembly
  • spheroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials


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