Mapping patterned potential energy landscapes with diffusing colloidal probes. Academic Article uri icon


  • We report a new method for mapping patterned surfaces based on monitoring the interactions of freely diffusing colloidal probes with pattern features to generate measured potential energy landscapes. Evanescent wave scattering and video microscopy are used to track 3D center positions of nominal 2 microm silica colloids as they diffuse over 5-20-nm-thick patterned gold films. An analysis of ensemble-averaged particle height histograms on different pattern features using Boltzmann's equation produces local electrostatic and van der Waals potentials in good agreement with independent measurements and predictions. Absolute separation is obtained from theoretical fits to measured potential-energy profiles and direct measurement by depositing silica colloids onto gold surfaces via electrophoretic deposition. As colloidal probe and pattern feature dimensions become comparable, potential energy profiles suffer some distortion due to the increased probability of probes sampling pattern feature edges. An analysis of interfacial colloidal probe diffusion in conjunction with potential energy measurements demonstrates a consistent interpretation of dissipative and conservative forces in these measurements. Future extensions of this work should produce similar approaches for interrogating physical, chemical, and biomolecular heterogeneous/patterned surfaces and structures with diffusing colloidal probes.

published proceedings

  • Langmuir

author list (cited authors)

  • Wu, H., Everett, W. N., Anekal, S. G., & Bevan, M. A.

citation count

  • 34

complete list of authors

  • Wu, Hung-Jen||Everett, W Neil||Anekal, Samartha G||Bevan, Michael A

publication date

  • August 2006