Directed colloidal assembly: Printing with magnets

Changqian Yu, Jie Zhang, Steve Granick

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


Bartosz Grzybowski and collaborators investigated how to print a spectrum of colloidal objects, polymeric particles, silica particles, even live bacteria, suspended in a paramagnetic fluid. By using magnetic-field microgradients produced by metal grids embedded in a rubber layer a few hundreds of nanometers thick that is placed on a permanent magnet, the authors show that beautiful arrays of complex microstructures can be assembled with high yield over square centimeter areas. Grzybowski and co-authors refer to this assembly approach as 'magnetic molding' because solutions of paramagnetic salts regulate the response of the colloids to the magnetic fields; the solution becomes in fact part of the mould. Magnetic-mould techniques could potentially enable 3D printing of colloidal structures. The magnetic-template principle put to practice by Grzybowski and colleagues could be generalized to provide programmability and reconfigurability on demand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-9
Number of pages2
JournalNature Materials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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