Chains of cubic colloids at fluid–fluid interfaces†
Inspired by recent experimental observations of spontaneous chain formation of cubic particles adsorbed at a fluid–fluid interface, we theoretically investigate whether capillary interactions can be responsible for this self-assembly process. We calculate adsorption energies, equilibrium particle orientations, and interfacial deformations, not only for a variety of contact angles but also for single cubes as well as an infinite 2D lattice of cubes at the interface. This allows us to construct a ground-state phase diagram as a function of areal density for several contact angles, and upon combining the capillary energy of a 2D lattice with a simple expression for the entropy of a 2D fluid we also construct temperature–density or size–density phase diagrams that exhibit large two-phase regions and triple points. We identify several regimes with stable chainlike structures, in line with the experimental observations.