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Patterning of Colloidal Particles in the Galvanic Microreactor

Speaker: Linda Jan
Series: Final Public Oral Examinations
Location: E-Quad F218
Date/Time: Friday, April 19, 2013, 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

A Cu-Au galvanic microreactor is used to demonstrate the autonomous patterning of  two-dimensional colloidal crystals with spatial and orientational order which are adherent to the electrode substrate. The microreactor is comprised of a patterned array of copper and gold microelectrodes in a coplanar arrangement that is immersed in a dilute hydrochloric acid solution in which colloidal polystyrene microspheres are suspended.  During the electrochemical dissolution of copper, polystyrene colloids are transported to the copper electrodes. The spatial arrangement of the electrodes determines whether the colloids initiate aggregation at the edges or centers of the copper electrodes. Depending on the microreactor parameters, two-dimensional colloidal crystals can form and adhere to the electrode.

This thesis investigates the mechanisms governing the autonomous particle motion, the directed particle trajectory (inner- versus edge-aggregation) as affected by the spatial patterning of the electrodes, and the adherence of the colloidal particles onto the substrate.  Using in situ current density measurements, particle velocimetry, and order-of-magnitude arguments, it is shown that particle motion is governed by bulk fluid motion and electrophoresis induced by the electrochemical reactions. Bulk electrolyte flow is most likely driven by electrochemical potential gradients of reaction products formed during the inhomogeneous copper dissolution, particularly due to localized high current density at the electrode junction. Preferential aggregation of the colloidal particles resulting in inner- and edge-aggregation is influenced by changes to the flow pattern in response to difference in current density profiles as affected by the spatial patterning of the electrode.