Joanna Aizenberg of Harvard University was awarded the 2023 ACS Award in Colloid Chemistry for her outstanding contributions to fundamental and applied colloid chemistry in developing large-scale, highly ordered porous colloidal materials with unique photonic, catalytic, and sensing properties. This literature discussion will highlight her recent work to understand how colloidal crystals of polystyrene spheres grow when the solvent evaporates.
After reviewing this article and completing the questions, students will be able to
- sketch the z-layer diagram for a face centered cubic unit cell
- identify low-index crystal lattice planes arising from the fcc system
- interpret experimental results presented in the article
This literature discussion would be best placed after instruction in the fcc crystal system. It does contain significant references to Miller indices and lattice planes, but it could be used as an in-class activity to teach those topics. In one implementation approach, students review the article and complete questions about the article on their own before class, then compare notes with classmates.
The questions in this literature discussion cover the very basics of beginning to understand the research. There are many opportunities for an instructor to adapt the questions and/or add more of their own to better cover the entire article. The supporting information contains cool videos of simulated crystal growth.
This literature discussion would pair nicely with a lab experiment in which students grow and analyze their own two-dimensional colloidal crystals grown using commercially available polystyrene or latex spheres. Two possible experiments are listed in the web resources.
I have not (yet) used this learning object in a classroom setting.