Control of Stratification in Drying Particle Suspensions via Temperature Gradients
Grest, Gary S.
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A potential strategy for controlling stratification in a drying suspension of bidisperse particles is studied using molecular dynamics simulations. When the suspension is maintained at a constant temperature during fast drying, it can exhibit "small-on-top" stratification with an accumulation (depletion) of smaller (larger) particles in the top region of the drying film, consistent with the prediction of current theories based on diffusiophoresis. However, when only the region near the substrate is thermalized at a constant temperature, a negative temperature gradient develops in the suspension because of evaporative cooling at the liquid-vapor interface. Since the associated thermophoresis is stronger for larger nanoparticles, a higher fraction of larger nanoparticles migrate to the top of the drying film at fast evaporation rates. As a result, stratification is converted to "large-on-top". Very strong small-on-top stratification can be produced with a positive thermal gradient in the drying suspension. Here, we explore a way to produce a positive thermal gradient by thermalizing the vapor at a temperature higher than that of the solvent. Possible experimental approaches to realize various thermal gradients in a suspension undergoing solvent evaporation and thus to produce different stratification states in the drying film are suggested.