We describe a procedure to synthesize colloidal clusters with polyhedral morphologies in high yield (liter quantities at up to 70% purity) using a combination of emulsion polymerization and inorganic surface chemistry. We show that the synthesis initially used for silica-polystyrene hybrid clusters can be generalized to create clusters from other inorganic and polymer particles. We also show that high yields of particular morphologies can be obtained by precise control of the inorganic seed particle size, a finding that can be explained using a hard-sphere packing model. These clusters can be further chemically modified for a variety of applications. Introducing a cross-linker leads to colloidal clusters that can be index matched in an appropriate solvent, allowing them to be used for particle tracking or optical studies of colloidal self-assembly. Also, depositing a thin silica layer on these colloids allows the surface properties to be controlled using silane chemistry.
Reprint (requires free registration with ACS)