Colloidal gold nanorods, iridescent beetles and breath figure templated assembly of ordered array of pores in polymer films
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Water drops that nucleate and grow over an evaporating polymer solution exposed to a current of moist air remain noncoalescent and self-assemble into close packed arrays. The hexagonally close packed, nearly monodisperse drops, eventually evaporate away, leaving a polymer film, with ordered array of pores. Meanwhile, typical breath figures or dew that form when moist air contacts cold surfaces involve coalescence-assisted growth of highly polydisperse, disordered array of water drops. This dissertation provides the first quantitative attempt aimed at the elucidation of the mechanism of the breath figure templated assembly of the ordered arrays of pores in polymer films. The creation and evolution of a population of close packed drops occur in response to the heat and mass fluxes involved in water droplet condensation and solvent evaporation. The dynamics of drop nucleation, growth, noncoalescence and self-assembly are modeled by accounting for various transport and thermodynamic processes. The theoretical results for the rate and extent of evaporative cooling and growth are compared with experiments. Further, the dissertation describes a rich array of experimental observations about water droplet growth, noncoalescence, assembly and drying that have not been reported in the published literature so far. The theoretical framework developed in this study allows one to rationalize and predict the structure and size of pores formed in different polymer-solvent systems under given air flow conditions. While the ordered arrays of water drops present an example of dynamics, growth and assembly of spherical particles, the study on colloidal gold nanorods focuses on the behavior of rodlike particles. A comprehensive set of theoretical arguments based on the shape dependent hydrodynamics of rods were developed and used for centrifugation-assisted separation of rodlike particles from nanospheres that are typical byproducts of seed mediated growth of nanorods. Since the efficiency of shape separation is assessed using UV-Vis-NIR spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), the present dissertation elucidates the shape dependent parameters that affect the optical response and phase behavior of colloidal gold nanorods. The drying of a drop of colloidal gold nanorods on glass slides creates coffee ring like deposits near the contact line, which is preceded by the formation of a liquid crystalline phase. The assemblies of rods on TEM grids are shown to be the result of equilibrium and non-equilibrium processes, and the ordered phases are compared with two dimensional liquid crystals. The methodology of pattern characterization developed in this dissertation is then used to analyze the structure of the exocuticle of iridescent beetle Chrysina gloriosa. The patterns were characterized using Voronoi analysis and the effect of curvature on the fractions on hexagonal order of tiles was determined. Further, these patterns were found to be analogous to the focal conic domains formed spontaneously on the free surface of a cholesteric liquid crystal. In summary, the dissertation provides the crucial understanding required for the widespread use of breath figure templated assembly as a method for manufacturing porous films, that requires only a drop of polymer solution (dilute) and a whiff of breath! Further, the dissertation establishes the physical basis and methodology for separating and characterizing colloidal gold nanorods. The dissertation also suggests the basis for the formation and structure of tiles that decorate the exoskeleton of an iridescent beetle Chrysina gloriosa.