Dissolution dynamics of a suspension droplet in a binary solution for controlled nanoparticle assembly†
Toroidal microstructures of nanocolloidal assemblies promise important applications ranging from sensing, catalysis, drug delivery, and separation. In this work, we will first investigate the rich dissolution dynamics of a droplet comprising a nanoparticle suspension in a binary solution, and then show that the dissolution dynamics can be a potential approach to assembling a wide range of colloids with microtoroids. As the sessile droplet dissolves in the binary solution of miscible and immiscible solvents, two simultaneous effects are observed: if the dissolution rate is sufficiently high under large concentrations of the cosolvent in the surrounding solution, a strong plume emanates from the droplet pole as a consequence of a body force (i.e. the Korteweg force) driven by the chemical potential gradient between the water in the droplet and in the surrounding phase. Concurrently, the convection drives internal recirculation flow dynamics, leading to the inversion of the droplet curvature such that its initially spherical shape gradually contracts to evolve into a toroidal structure. We further demonstrate that the dissolution of a suspension droplet is an approach to assemble nanoparticles into toroidal microstructures. The resultant toroidal shapes are extrinsically governed by the composition and the geometrical confinement of the surrounding solution phase.