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Issue 41, 2012
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Synthesis of fluorescent monodisperse non-spherical dumbbell-like model colloids

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We describe a facile and flexible approach for synthesizing uniform non-spherical micron sized PMMA (poly(methyl methacrylate)) colloids with well-controlled protrusions. When homogeneously cross-linked PMMA spheres were used as seeds in a swelling process using again a methyl methacrylate monomer, they were found to transform into non-spherical particles with a single or multiple protrusions mainly depending on the cross-link density of the seeds. Alternatively, if core–shell PMMA spheres bearing a highly cross-linked shell around an uncross-linked ‘soft’ core were employed as seed particles, they always developed just a single protrusion. Precise control over the anisotropy of the particles was achieved by varying the amount and composition of the swelling mixture as well as the concentration of the stabilizer. Subsequently, the phase separation was enhanced and protrusions could be readily polymerized through temperature elevation of the system, yielding PMMA ‘snowman’-like or dumbbell-like colloids. Furthermore, these particles could be labeled with fluorescent dyes either before or after the polymerization, and transferred into apolar, refractive index and density matching liquids (cyclohexyl bromide (CHB) and/or decalin), enabling their use in quantitative confocal fluorescence microscopy studies in concentrated systems. Some examples of the use of these particles as a model system for real space analysis are given. These examples include the formation of plastic crystals, a special form of a colloidal crystal where the particles are positionally ordered but orientationally disordered. Additionally, the non-spherical particles could be organized into semi-flexibly bonded colloidal chains aided by an electric field in a polar solvent (formamide). Such chains of anisotropic particles are interesting as polymer analogs and for the preparation of new materials.

Graphical abstract: Synthesis of fluorescent monodisperse non-spherical dumbbell-like model colloids

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Publication details

The article was received on 05 Aug 2012, accepted on 05 Sep 2012 and first published on 06 Sep 2012

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C2JM35229J
Citation: J. Mater. Chem., 2012,22, 21893-21900
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    Synthesis of fluorescent monodisperse non-spherical dumbbell-like model colloids

    B. Peng, H. R. Vutukuri, A. van Blaaderen and A. Imhof, J. Mater. Chem., 2012, 22, 21893
    DOI: 10.1039/C2JM35229J

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