Influence of Surfactant-Mediated Interparticle Contacts on the Mechanical Stability of Supraparticles

Wang J, Kang E, Sultan U, Merle B, Inayat A, Graczykowski B, Fytas G, Vogel N (2021)

Publication Language: English

Publication Status: Published

Publication Type: Journal article, Original article

Publication year: 2021


Publisher: American Chemical Society

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.1c06839


Colloidal supraparticles are micron-scale spherical assemblies of uniform primary particles, which exhibit emergent properties of a colloidal crystal, yet exist as a dispersible powder. A prerequisite to utilize these emergent functionalities is that the supraparticles maintain their mechanical integrity upon the mechanical impacts that are likely to occur during processing. Understanding how the internal structure relates to the resultant mechanical properties of a supraparticle is therefore of general interest. Here, we take the example of supraparticles templated from water/fluorinated oil emulsions in droplet-based microfluidics and explore the effect of surfactants on their mechanical properties. Stable emulsions can be generated by nonionic block copolymers consisting of a hydrophilic and fluorophilic block and anionic fluorosurfactants widely available under the brand name Krytox. The supraparticles formed in the presence of both types of surfactants appear structurally similar, but differ greatly in their mechanical properties. While the nonionic surfactant induces superior mechanical stability and ductile fracture behavior, the anionic Krytox surfactant leads to weak supraparticles with brittle fracture. We complement this macroscopic picture with Brillouin light spectroscopy that is very sensitive to the interparticle contacts for subnanometer-thick adsorbed layers atop of the nanoparticle. While the anionic Krytox does not significantly affect the interparticle bonds, the amphiphilic nonionic surfactant drastically strengthens these bonds to the point that individual particle vibrations are not resolved in the experimental spectrum. Our results demonstrate that seemingly subtle changes in the physicochemical properties of supraparticles can drastically impact the resultant mechanical properties.

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Wang, J., Kang, E., Sultan, U., Merle, B., Inayat, A., Graczykowski, B.,... Vogel, N. (2021). Influence of Surfactant-Mediated Interparticle Contacts on the Mechanical Stability of Supraparticles. Journal of Physical Chemistry C.


Wang, Junwei, et al. "Influence of Surfactant-Mediated Interparticle Contacts on the Mechanical Stability of Supraparticles." Journal of Physical Chemistry C (2021).

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