Single Crystal Winterbottom Constructions of Nanoparticle Superlattices
Colloidal nanoparticle assembly methods can serve as ideal models to explore the fundamentals of homogeneous crystallization phenomena, as interparticle interactions can be readily tuned to modify crystal nucleation and growth. However, heterogeneous crystallization at interfaces is often more challenging to control, as it requires that both interparticle and particle–surface interactions be manipulated simultaneously. Here, we demonstrate how programmable DNA hybridization enables the formation of single-crystal Winterbottom constructions of substrate-bound nanoparticle superlattices with defined sizes, shapes, orientations and degrees of anisotropy. Additionally, we show that some crystals exhibit deviations from their predicted Winterbottom structures due to an additional growth pathway that is not typically observed in atomic crystals, providing insight into the differences between this model system and other atomic or molecular crystals. By precisely tailoring both interparticle and particle–surface potentials, we therefore can use this model to both understand and rationally control the complex process of interfacial crystallization.