Monday, November 9, 2015: 2:45 PM
Canyon B (Hilton Salt Lake City Center)
Chiral molecules with opposite handedness exhibit distinct physical, chemical, or biological properties. They pose challenges as well as opportunities in understanding the phase behavior of soft matter, designing enantioselective catalysts, and manufacturing single-handed pharmaceuticals. Microscopic particles, arranged in a chiral configuration, could also exhibit unusual optical, electric, or magnetic responses. Here we report a simple method to assemble achiral building blocks, i.e., the asymmetric colloidal dimers, into a family of chiral clusters. Under AC electric fields, two to four lying dimers associate closely with a central standing dimer and form both right- and left-handed clusters on a conducting substrate. The cluster configuration is primarily determined by the induced dipolar interactions between constituent dimers. Our theoretical model reveals that in-plane dipolar repulsion between petals in the cluster favor the achiral configuration, while out-of-plane attraction between the central dimer and surrounding petals favor a chiral arrangement. It is the competition between these two interactions that dictates the final configuration. The theoretical chirality phase diagram is found to be in excellent agreement with experimental observations. We further demonstrate that the broken symmetry in chiral clusters induces an unbalanced electrohydrodynamic flow surrounding them. As a result, they rotate in opposite directions according to their handedness. Both the assembly and propulsion mechanisms revealed here can be potentially applied to other types of asymmetric particles. Such kind of chiral colloids will be useful for fabricating metamaterials, making model systems for both chiral molecules and active matter, or building propellers for microscale transport.