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Journal Article

Nano-beam X-ray microscopy of dried colloidal films


Westermeier,  Fabian
Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY, Notkestr. 85, 22607 Hamburg, Germany;
Miller Group, Atomically Resolved Dynamics Department, Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Max Planck Society;

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Schroer, M. A., Gutt, C., Lehmkühler, F., Fischer, B., Steinke, I., Westermeier, F., et al. (2015). Nano-beam X-ray microscopy of dried colloidal films. Soft Matter, 11(27), 5465-5472. doi:10.1039/C5SM00609K.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002A-3B1F-F
We report on a nano-beam small angle X-ray scattering study on densely-packed, dried binary films made out of spherical silica particles with radii of 11.2 and 19.3 nm. For these three-dimensional thin films prepared by drop casting, only a finite number of colloidal particles contributes to the scattering signal due to the small beam size of 400 × 400 nm2. By scanning the samples, the structure and composition of the silica particle films are determined spatially resolved revealing spatial heterogeneities in the films. Three different types of domains were identified: regions containing mainly large particles, regions containing mainly small particles, and regions where both particle species are mixed. Using the new angular X-ray cross-correlations analysis (XCCA) approach, spatial maps of the local type and degree of orientational order within the silica particle films are obtained. Whereas the mixed regions have dominant two-fold order, weaker four-fold and marginal six-fold order, regions made out of large particles are characterized by an overall reduced orientational order. Regions of small particles are highly ordered showing actually crystalline order. Distinct differences in the local particle order are observed by analyzing sections through the intensity and XCCA maps. The different degree of order can be understood by the different particle size polydispersities. Moreover, we show that preferential orientations of the particle domains can be studied by cross-correlation analysis yielding information on particle film formation. We find patches of preferential order with an average size of 8–10 μm. Thus, by this combined X-ray cross-correlation microscopy (XCCM) approach the structure and orientational order of films made out of nanometer sized colloids can be determined. This method will allow to reveal the local structure and order of self-assembled structures with different degree of order in general.