Block Copolymer Micelles for Photonic Fluids and Crystals.
Block copolymer micelles (BCMs) are self-assembled nanoparticles in solution with a collapsed core and a brush-like stabilizing corona typically in the size range of tens of nanometers. Despite being widely studied in various fields of science and technology, their ability to form structural colors at visible wavelength has not received attention, mainly due to the stringent length requirements of photonic lattices. Here, we describe the precision assembly of BCMs with superstretched corona, yet with narrow size distribution to qualify as building blocks for tunable and reversible micellar photonic fluids (MPFs) and micellar photonic crystals (MPCs). The BCMs form free-flowing MPFs with an average interparticle distance of 150-300 nm as defined by electrosteric repulsion arising from the highly charged and stretched corona. Under quiescent conditions, millimeter-sized MPCs with classical FCC lattice grow within the photonic fluid-medium upon refinement of the positional order of the BCMs. We discuss the generic properties of MPCs with special emphasis on surprisingly narrow reflected wavelengths with full width at half-maximum (fwhm) as small as 1 nm. We expect this concept to open a generic and facile way for self-assembled tunable micellar photonic structures.
European Research Council (639088)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L016087/1)