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Extremely Long-Range Light-Driven Repulsion of Porous Microparticles

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journal contribution
posted on 10.03.2020, 15:21 authored by David Feldmann, Pooja Arya, Taras Y. Molotilin, Nino Lomadze, Alexey Kopyshev, Olga I. Vinogradova, Svetlana A. Santer
The repulsive surface forces, such as electrostatic or steric, acting between particles explain why they remain well separated in aqueous electrolyte solutions and are responsible for the stability of colloidal dispersions. However, the effective range of these interactions is always well below hundreds of nanometers and typically can be controlled by advanced manipulations such as tuning the electrolyte concentration or modifying the particle surface or, in some more specific cases, via subjecting the suspension to an external electric or magnetic field. Here we employ solutions with small additives of a photosensitive ionic surfactant to investigate if a repulsive interaction of microsized particles sedimented at the solid surface can be remotely controlled simply by illuminating it with an appropriate wavelength. We show that interactions of conventional impermeable particles remain practically unaffected by light, but, in contrast, for porous particles, we observe a long-range repulsion, several orders of magnitude longer than any conceivable equilibrium surface force. This repulsion emerges due to the diffusio-osmotic flow generated near the porous particles that in this scenario are playing a role of micropumps. The diffusio-osmotic repulsion of porous particles can be used for a remote control of their two-dimensional assemblies at the solid wall, and in particular, we demonstrate that by simply using two different illumination wavelengths it is possible to reversibly switch the state of porous particle dispersion from densely packed surface aggregates to a periodic lattice of particles separated by distances on the order of tens of micrometers.