Multiple electrokinetic actuators for feedback control of colloidal crystal size

Lab Chip. 2012 Oct 21;12(20):4063-70. doi: 10.1039/c2lc40692f.


We report a feedback control method to precisely target the number of colloidal particles in quasi-2D ensembles and their subsequent assembly into crystals in a quadrupole electrode. Our approach relies on tracking the number of particles within a quadrupole electrode, which is used in a real-time feedback control algorithm to dynamically actuate competing electrokinetic transport mechanisms. Particles are removed from the quadrupole using DC-field mediated electrophoretic-electroosmotic transport, while high-frequency AC-field mediated dielectrophoretic transport is used to concentrate and assemble colloidal crystals. Our results show successful control of the size of crystals containing 20 to 250 colloidal particles with less than 10% error. Assembled crystals are characterized by their radius of gyration, crystallinity, and number of edge particles, and demonstrate the expected size-dependent properties. Our findings demonstrate successful ensemble feedback control of the assembly of different sized colloidal crystals using multiple actuators, which has broad implications for control over nano- and micro- scale assembly processes involving colloidal components.