Self-assembly of patchy colloidal rods into photonic crystals robust to stacking faults

Andreas Neophytou, Vinothan Manoharan, Dwaipayan Chakrabarti

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Diamond-structured colloidal photonic crystals are much sought-after for their applications in visible light management because of their ability to support a complete photonic band gap (PBG). However, their realization via self-assembly pathways is a long-standing challenge. This challenge is rooted in three fundamental problems: the design of building blocks that assemble into diamond-like structures, the sensitivity of the PBG to stacking faults, and ensuring that the PBG opens at an experimentally attainable refractive index. Here we address these problems simultaneously using a multipronged computational approach. We use reverse engineering to establish the design principles for the rod-connected diamond structure (RCD), the so-called "champion"photonic crystal. We devise two distinct self-assembly routes for designer triblock patchy colloidal rods, both proceeding via tetrahedral clusters to yield a mixed phase of cubic and hexagonal polymorphs closely related to RCD. We use Monte Carlo simulations to show how these routes avoid a metastable amorphous phase. Finally, we show that both the polymorphs support spectrally overlapping PBGs. Importantly, randomly stacked hybrids of these polymorphs also display PBGs, thus circumventing the requirement of polymorph selection in a scalable fabrication method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2668-2678
Number of pages11
JournalACS Nano
Issue number2
Early online date15 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: We thank Francesco Sciortino, Andrew Dove, Rachel O’Reilly, Angela Demetriadou, Peter Schurtenberger, Jeremy Baumberg, and Qian Chen for stimulating discussions. A.N., V.N.M., and D.C. gratefully acknowledge support from the Institute of Advanced Studies of the University of Birmingham. We acknowledge the use of the BlueBEAR HPC service of the University of Birmingham.


  • colloidal self-assembly
  • hierarchical self-assembly
  • patchy rods
  • photonic crystals
  • rod-connected diamond
  • stacking faults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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