EPSRC logo

Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/I012885/1
Title: Fluctuating interfaces in colloidal crystals
Principal Investigator: Dullens, Professor R
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Oxford Chemistry
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 01 October 2010 Ends: 30 September 2012 Value (£): 103,029
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Analytical Science Surfaces & Interfaces
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
01 Sep 2010 Physical Sciences Panel - Chemistry Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
In an ideal crystal all atoms are located at perfectly periodically positioned lattice sites. However, in practice, crystals always contain various types of defects and typically consist of smaller crystallites, each with a different orientation. This is of considerable interest since crystal imperfections and interfaces between different crystallites in particular have important implications for the mechanical and optical properties of crystals. Understanding the nature of interfaces in crystals, their fluctuations, structure and evolution, is therefore of fundamental importance to a wide range of scientific fields and technological applications. Here, we propose to use colloidal crystals to study interfaces in crystals.Colloidal suspensions, in which particles with a diameter between roughly one nanometer and a few micrometers are dispersed in a molecular solvent, offer a unique model system to study interfaces in crystals for a number of reasons. The phase behaviour of colloidal suspensions is thermodynamically equivalent to atomic and molecular systems and includes colloidal gas, liquid and crystal phases. Furthermore, the interaction potential is tunable, which makes it possible to closely mimic atomic interaction potentials and colloidal systems are easily manipulated using external fields. Because the typical colloidal length and time scales are of the order of micrometers and seconds respectively, the structure and dynamics can be analyzed at the particle level using optical microscopy. The combination of colloidal crystals and optical microscopy thus opens up a wide range of exciting possibilities to investigate the intimate relation between interface fluctuations in crystals and phenomena like recrystallization, grain growth and crystal nucleation at the `model atomic' level. We will focus on the fluctuations of the interfaces between different crystallites. Analyzing these fluctuations directly leads to the key quantities that control interface migration, the interfacial stiffness and interface mobility. Interface migration is central to processes like grain growth, phase transformations and recrystallization. These processes are sensitively affected by the presence of impurities, which are almost always present in crystals in nature. Therefore, we will also address the effect of impurities on interface fluctuations. Finally, we will study interfaces in confinement. This is nowadays very relevant due to the proceeding miniaturization of many systems and devices in science and technology.The proposed work will lead to a better understanding of interfaces in crystals, which is essential for many applications including ceramic and photonic materials.
Key Findings
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Potential use in non-academic contexts
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk