Observation and tuning of hypersonic bandgaps in colloidal crystals

Nat Mater. 2006 Oct;5(10):830-6. doi: 10.1038/nmat1727. Epub 2006 Sep 3.


Composite materials with periodic variations of density and/or sound velocities, so-called phononic crystals, can exhibit bandgaps where propagation of acoustic waves is forbidden. Phononic crystals are the elastic analogue of the well-established photonic crystals and show potential for manipulating the flow of elastic energy. So far, the experimental realization of phononic crystals has been restricted to macroscopic systems with sonic or ultrasonic bandgaps in the sub-MHz frequency range. In this work, using high-resolution Brillouin spectroscopy we report the first observation of a hypersonic bandgap in face-centred-cubic colloidal crystals formed by self-assembly of polystyrene nanoparticles with subsequent fluid infiltration. Depending on the particle size and the sound velocity in the infiltrated fluid, the frequency and the width of the gap can be tuned. Promising technological applications of hypersonic crystals, ranging from tunable filters and heat management to acousto-optical devices, are anticipated.