Rapidly Infrared-Assisted Cooperatively Self-Assembled Highly Ordered Multiscale Porous Materials

In this paper, cooperative self-assembly (CSA) of colloidal spheres with different sizes was studied. It was found that a complicated jamming effect makes it difficult to achieve an optimal self-assembling condition for construction of a well-ordered stacking of colloidal spheres in a relatively short growth time by CSA. Through the use of a characteristic infrared (IR) technique to significantly accelerate local evaporation on the growing interface without changing the bulk growing environment, a concise three-parameter (temperature, pressure, and IR intensity) CSA method to effectively overcome the jamming effect has been developed. Mono- and multiscale inverse opals in a large range of lattice scales can be prepared within a growth time (15−30 min) that is remarkably shorter than the growth times of several hours for previous methods. Scanning electron microscopy images and transmittance spectra demonstrated the superior crystalline and optical qualities of the resulting materials. More importantly, the new method enables optimal conditions for CSA without limitations on sizes and materials of multiple colloids. This strategy not only makes a meaningful advance in the applicability and universality of colloidal crystals and ordered porous materials but also can be an inspiration to the self-assembly systems widely used in many other fields, such as nanotechnology and molecular bioengineering.