Colloidal crystal growth monitored by Bragg diffraction interference fringes

Justin J. Bohn, Alexander Tikhonov, Sanford A. Asher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


We monitored the crystal growth kinetics of crystallization of a shear melted crystalline colloidal array (CCA). The fcc CCA heterogeneously nucleates at the flow cell wall surface. We examined the evolution of the (1. 1. 1) Bragg diffraction peak, and, for the first time, quantitatively monitored growth by measuring the temporal evolution of the Bragg diffraction interference fringes. Modeling of the evolution of the fringe patterns exposes the time dependence of the increasing crystal thickness. The initial diffusion-driven linear growth is followed by ripening-driven growth. Between 80 and 90 μM NaCl concentrations the fcc crystals first linearly grow at rates between 1.9 and 4.2 μm/s until they contact homogeneously nucleated crystals in the bulk. At lower salt concentrations interference fringes are not visible because the strong electrostatic interactions between particles result in high activation barriers, preventing defect annealing and leading to a lower crystal quality. The fcc crystals melt to a liquid phase at >90 μM NaCl concentrations. Increasing NaCl concentrations slow the fcc CCA growth rate consistent with the expectation of the classical Wilson-Frenkel growth theory. The final thickness of wall-nucleated CCA, that is determined by the competition between growth of heterogeneously and homogenously nucleated CCA, increases with higher NaCl concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-386
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Bragg diffraction
  • CCA
  • Growth kinetics
  • Interference fringes
  • Ordering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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