|Title||Precise colloids with tunable interactions for confocal microscopy|
|Author(s)||Kodger, T.E.; Guerra, R.E.; Sprakel, Joris|
|Source||Scientific Reports 5 (2015). - ISSN 2045-2322|
Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter
|Publication type||Refereed Article in a scientific journal|
Model colloidal systems studied with confocal microscopy have led to numerous insights into the physics of condensed matter. Though confocal microscopy is an extremely powerful tool, it requires a careful choice and preparation of the colloid. Uncontrolled or unknown variations in the size, density, and composition of the individual particles and interactions between particles, often influenced by the synthetic route taken to form them, lead to difficulties in interpreting the behavior of the dispersion. Here we describe the straightforward synthesis of copolymer particles which can be refractive index-and density-matched simultaneously to a non-plasticizing mixture of high dielectric solvents. The interactions between particles are accurately tuned by surface grafting of polymer brushes using Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization (ATRP), from hard-sphere-like to long-ranged electrostatic repulsion or mixed charge attraction. We also modify the buoyant density of the particles by altering the copolymer ratio while maintaining their refractive index match to the suspending solution resulting in well controlled sedimentation. The tunability of the inter-particle interactions, the low volatility of the solvents, and the capacity to simultaneously match both the refractive index and density of the particles to the fluid opens up new possibilities for exploring the physics of colloidal systems.