Self-assembly of photonic crystals by controlling the nucleation and growth of DNA-coated colloids

Alexander Hensley, William M. Jacobs, W. Benjamin Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


DNA-coated colloids can self-assemble into an incredible diversity of crystal structures, but their applications have been limited by poor understanding and control over the crystallization dynamics. To address this challenge, we use microfluidics to quantify the kinetics of DNA-programmed self-assembly along the entire crystallization pathway, from thermally activated nucleation through reaction-limited and diffusion-limited phases of crystal growth. Our detailed measurements of the temperature and concentration dependence of the kinetics at all stages of crystallization provide a stringent test of classical theories of nucleation and growth. After accounting for the finite rolling and sliding rates of micrometer-sized DNA-coated colloids, we show that modified versions of these classical theories predict the absolute nucleation and growth rates with quantitative accuracy. We conclude by applying our model to design and demonstrate protocols for assembling large single crystals with pronounced structural coloration, an essential step in creating next-generation optical metamaterials from colloids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2114050118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 4 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Colloids
  • Crystallization
  • DNA
  • Nucleation
  • Self-assembly


Dive into the research topics of 'Self-assembly of photonic crystals by controlling the nucleation and growth of DNA-coated colloids'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this