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Beyond the “Coffee Ring”: Re-entrant Ordering in an Evaporation-Driven Self-Assembly in a Colloidal Suspension on a Substrate

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posted on 06.03.2014, 00:00 by Sumanta Mukherjee, Arnab Saha, Pralay K. Santra, Surajit Sengupta, D. D. Sarma
We study the phenomenon of evaporation-driven self-assembly of a colloid suspension of silica microspheres in the interior region and away from the rim of the droplet on a glass plate. In view of the importance of achieving a large-area, monolayer assembly, we first realize a suitable choice of experimental conditions, minimizing the influence of many other competing phenomena that usually complicate the understanding of fundamental concepts of such self-assembly processes in the interior region of a drying droplet. Under these simplifying conditions to bring out essential aspects, our experiments unveil an interesting competition between ordering and compaction in such drying systems in analogy to an impending glass transition. We establish a re-entrant behavior in the order–disorder phase diagram as a function of the particle density, such that there is an optimal range of the particle density to realize the long-range ordering. The results are explained with the help of simulations and phenomenological theory.