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Macroscopic DNA-programmed photonic crystals via seeded growth

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posted on 2023-03-09, 17:01 authored by Alexander Hensley, Thomas E. Videbaek, Hunter Seyforth, William M. Jacobs, W. Benjamin Rogers
Photonic crystals -- a class of materials whose optical properties derive from their structure in addition to their composition -- can be created by self-assembling particles whose sizes are comparable to the wavelengths of visible light. Proof-of-principle studies have shown that DNA can be used to guide the self-assembly of micrometer-sized colloidal particles into fully programmable crystal structures with photonic properties in the visible spectrum. However, the extremely temperature-sensitive kinetics of micrometer-sized DNA-functionalized particles has frustrated attempts to grow large, monodisperse crystals that are required for photonic metamaterial applications. Here we describe a robust two-step protocol for self-assembling single-domain crystals that contain millions of optical-scale DNA-functionalized particles: Monodisperse crystals are initially assembled in monodisperse droplets made by microfluidics, after which they are grown to macroscopic dimensions via seeded diffusion-limited growth. We demonstrate the generality of our approach by assembling different macroscopic single-domain photonic crystals with metamaterial properties, like structural coloration, that depend on the underlying crystal structure. By circumventing the fundamental kinetic traps intrinsic to crystallization of optical-scale DNA-coated colloids, we eliminate a key barrier to engineering photonic devices from DNA-programmed materials.

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