Dipolar particles are fundamental building blocks in nature and technology, yet the effect of particle anisotropy is seldom explored. Here, we fabricate colloidal silica rods coated with a hemicylindrical magnetic layer to satisfy multiple criteria: nearly monodisperse, easily imaged and magnetic interaction that dominates over gravity. We confirm long-predicted features of dipolar assembly and stress the microstructural variety brought about by shape and constituent anisotropy, especially by extrapolating knowledge learned from literal molecules. In this colloidal system, we describe analogies to liquid crystalline deformations with bend, splay and twist; an analogy to cis/trans isomerism in organic molecules, which in our system can be controllably and reversibly switched; and a field-switching methodology to direct single ribbons into not only single but also multiple rings that can subsequently undergo hierarchical self-assembly. We highlight subtle material issues of control and design rules for reconfigurable dipolar materials with building blocks of complex shape.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)