Colloidal designer shells: spherical crystallography and the colloidal Buckliball


I propose to develop a colloidal system that probes how a spherical surface can be covered, or tiled, by anisotropic particles. While the coverage with spherical particles (or ?tiles?) has been studied in depth, more complex tiles - particles of anisotropic shape or interactions - are completely unexplored.

Employing particle-covered droplets, and building on recent progress in the fabrication of anisotropic colloidal particles I will probe the number and type of defects as well as their dynamics, and use these insights to create novel designer shells with switchable mechanical properties. The colloidal scale is ideally suited for such a study as thermal motion randomizes the particles while confocal microscopy provides full three-dimensional information of particles positions and orientations.

The project will progress along three lines of attack:
1) I will introduce impurities of controlled size and shape in crystals of spherical particles, in order to cause and control grain boundaries.
2) I will identify the novel crystal structures and defects for anisotropic particles, employing both particles of anisometric shape as well as particles with a valence, that is site-specific interactions.
3) Finally, I will develop polymer shells with voids instead of colloids. By studying the buckling of these shells, I want to explore how defects and crystal structure relate to mechanical properties. These designer shells form a new class of shape-changing micro-containers with great potential for controlled encapsulation and release, or as sensors and actuators.

Combining fundamental questions on ordering of anisotropic particles with developing novel designer shells, I will uncover and exploit the link between defects and order of spherical crystals with the mechanical properties of shell-like structures.


Scientific article

  • M. Dijkstra, J.R. Wolters, G. Avvisati, T. Vissers, W.K. Kegel, F. Hagemans, D.J. Kraft(2015): Self-assembly of “Mickey Mouse” shaped colloids into tube-like structures: experiments and simulations Soft Matter pp. 1067 - 1077
  • A. Hernandez-Garcia, D.J. Kraft, M.T.J.J.M. Punter, R. de Vries, P. van der Schoot(2016): Self-Assembly Dynamics of Linear Virus-Like Particles: Theory and Experiment The Journal of Physical Chemistry B pp. 6286 - 6297
  • M. Segers, P. Buskens, D.J. Kraft, M. Sliepen, M. Möller(2016): Synthesis of sub-micron sized hollow, and nanoporous phenylsiloxane spheres through use of phenyltrimethoxysilane as surfmer: Insights into the surfactant and factors influencing the particle architecture Colloids and Surfaces A pp. 378 - 384
  • DJ Kraft, V Meester(2016): Spherical, dimpled, and crumpled hybrid colloids with tunable surface morphology Langmuir pp. 10668 - 10677
  • R Verweij, DJ Kraft, V Meester, C van der Wel(2016): Colloidal recycling: reconfiguration of random aggregates into patchy particles ACS Nano pp. 4322 - 4329
  • M. Hermes, C.M. van Kats, A. van Blaaderen, M. Kamp, W.K. Kegel, D.J. Kraft, M. Dijkstra(2016): Selective Depletion Interactions in Mixtures of Rough and Smooth Silica Spheres Langmuir pp. 1233 - 1240
  • D Heinrich, DJ Kraft, A Saric, A Vahid, T Idema, C van der Wel(2016): Lipid membrane-mediated attraction between curvature inducing objects Scientific reports pp. 32825 - 32825
  • D.J. Kraft, C. van der Wel(2016): Automated tracking of colloidal clusters with sub-pixel accuracy and precision Emerging Leaders special issue of Journal of Physics: condensed Matter pp. 44001 - 44011
  • A.C. Newton, D.J. Kraft, S.J. Veen, T.A. Nguyen, P. Schall, P.G. Bolhuis(2017): Modelling critical Casimir force induced self-assembly experiments on patchy colloidal dumbbells Soft Matter pp. 4903 - 4915
  • D.J. Kraft, A. Newton, P.G. Bolhuis, S.J. Veen, T.A. Nguyen, P. Schall(2017): Switching Colloidal Superstructures by Critical Casimir Forces Advanced Materials pp. 1 - 6
  • C. van der Wel, D.J. Kraft, I. Chakraborty, V. Meester(2017): Colloidal joints with designed motion range and tunable joint flexibility Nanoscale pp. 7814 - 7821
  • D.J. Kraft, R. de Vries, G. Biondaro, P. van der Schoot, M.A. Cohen Stuart, J. Sprakel, H.E. Cingil, E.B. Boz(2017): Illuminating the Reaction Pathways of Viromimetic Assembly Journal of the American Chemical Society pp. 4962 - 4968
  • D.J. Kraft, D. Heinrich, C. van der Wel(2017): Microparticle Assembly Pathways on Lipid Membranes Biophysical Journal pp. 1037 - 1046
  • D.J. Kraft, S. Sacanna, R.W. Verweij, Z. Gong, H.C. Frijters, C. van der Wel, K. Bhan, A.D. Hollingsworth(2017): Preparation of Colloidal Organosilica Spheres through Spontaneous Emulsification Langmuir pp. 8174 - 8180


Project number


Main applicant

Dr. D.J. Kraft

Affiliated with

Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Wiskunde en Natuurwetenschappen, Leiden Institute of Chemistry

Team members

Dr. D.J. Kraft


01/01/2014 to 26/10/2017