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Single crystal growth and anisotropic crystal-fluid interfacial free energy in soft colloidal systems



Single crystal growth and anisotropic crystal-fluid interfacial free energy in soft colloidal systems



Physical Review. E, Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics 84(1 Pt 1): 011607-011607



We measure the anisotropy of the crystal-fluid interfacial free energy in soft colloidal systems. A temperature gradient is used to direct crystal nucleation and control the growth of large single crystals in order to achieve well-equilibrated crystal-fluid interfaces. Confocal microscopy is used to follow both the growth process and the equilibrium crystal-fluid interface at the particle scale: heterogeneous crystal nucleation, the advancing interface, and the stationary equilibrium interface. We use the measured growth velocity to determine the chemical potential difference between crystal and fluid phases. Well-equilibrated, large crystal-fluid interfaces are then used to determine the interfacial free energy and its anisotropy directly from thermally excited interface fluctuations. We find that while the measured average interfacial free energy is in good agreement with values found in simulations, the anisotropy is significantly larger than simulation values. Finally, we investigate the effect of impurities on the advancing interface. We determine the critical force needed to overcome impurity particles from the local interface curvature.

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Accession: 055793612

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PMID: 21867183

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.84.011607



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