Friction-directed self-assembly of Janus lithographic microgels into anisotropic 2D structures†
We present a method for creating ordered 2D structures with material anisotropy from self-assembling micro-sized hydrogel particles (microgels). Microgel platelets of polygonal shapes (hexagon, square, and rhombus), obtained by a continuous scalable lithographic process, are suspended in an aqueous environment and sediment on an inclined plane. As a consequence of gravitational pull, they slide over the plane. Each half of the microgel is composed of a different type of hydrogel [poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM), and poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA), respectively] which exhibit different frictional coefficients when sheared over a substrate. Hence the microgels self-orientate as they slide, and the side with the lower frictional coefficient positions in the direction of sliding. The self-oriented microgels concentrate at the bottom of the tilted plane. Here they form densely packed structures with translational as well as orientational order.