Interfacial energetics of two-dimensional colloidal clusters generated with a tunable anharmonic interaction potential
Biswal, Sibani Lisa
Interfacial characteristics are critical to various properties of two-dimensional (2D) materials such as band alignment at a heterojunction and nucleation kinetics in a 2D crystal. Despite the desire to harness these enhanced interfacial properties for engineering new materials, unexpected phase transitions and defects, unique to the 2D morphology, have left a number of open questions. In particular, the effects of configurational anisotropy, which are difficult to isolate experimentally, and their influence on interfacial properties are not well understood. In this work, we begin to probe this structure-thermodynamic relationship, using a rotating magnetic field to generate an anharmonic interaction potential in a 2D system of paramagnetic particles. At low magnetic field strengths, weakly interacting colloidal particles form non-close-packed, fluidlike droplets, whereas, at higher field strengths, crystallites with hexagonal ordering are observed. We examine spatial and interfacial properties of these 2D colloidal clusters by measuring the local bond orientation order parameter and interfacial stiffness as a function of the interaction strength. To our knowledge, this is the first study to measure the tunable interfacial stiffness of a 2D colloidal cluster by controlling particle interactions using external fields.