Materials Research Science and Engineering Center

Colloidosomes: Self-Assembled Permeable Solid Shells

A new approach in exploiting self-assembly to create novel structures with building blocks of larger length scale was created in the work of Weitz and his collaborators, who created structures they call colloidosomes. These structures are made by adsorbing colloidal particles at the interface of an emulsion droplet, gently sintering the particles to stabilize the structure, and then transferring the larger droplet into a new continuous-phase of fluid which is the same as the inner fluid, thereby resulting in a solid shell with potential utility for encapsulation. An electron micrograph of a colloidosome is shown in the figure. In addition, by looking with higher magnification, the sintered layers between particles are clearly visible, as well as the remaining pores; the size of these pores can be simply controlled by the heating rate, the ripening time and the size of the colloidal particles, providing a simple means of assembling new structures that may prove useful for encapsulation.

MRSEC Research Year:















Complexity from Simplicity
Very Fine Art: Stunningly Beautiful Microscale Sculptures
Aizenberg, Mahadevan

Hydroglyphics: Visualizing Patterns from Wetting Contrast
Writing Secret Messages with Water

Science, Engineering, and Technology in the City
A Career Exploration Day for High School Girls

Shared Experimental Facilities

Soft-Matter Day Workshops initiated in China

Photonic Droplets:
Non-toxic Displays, Cosmetics, and Paints
Manoharan, Weitz

Liquid Embedded Elastomers
New Bendable and Stretchable Electronics

Metaphase Spindle as an Active Liquid Crystal
Experimental Test of Theory


Tough gel stretches to 21 times its length, recoils, and heals itself
Zhigang Suo, Joost J. Vlassak, David J. Mooney

International Ambassador, Career Development of Dr. Andy Utada

Soft-Matter and Innovation Workshop

Microtubules in Metaphase Spindles, Organization Revealed by Laser Nano-cutting
Daniel J. Needleman and Eric Mazur

Active Soft Materials, Sensing Deformation and Contact Pressure
R.J. Wood

Active Soft Materials, Sensing Deformation and Contact Pressure
G.M. Whitesides

Fluctuating Thin Elastic Shells, Thermal Fluctuations Modify Elastic Properties
David R. Nelson and David A. Weitz

Particles at Liquid Interfaces, Energy Barrier to Particle Surface Adsorption
Vinothan N. Manoharan and Michael P. Brenner

Fluid Drops Impacting Solid Surfaces, Drops 'Skate' on a Thin Layer of Air
Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan, David A. Weitz, and Michael P. Brenner

Combinatorial AC NanoCalorimetry, In-situ X-ray diffraction and nanocalorimetry setup
Joost J. Vlassak, John M. Gregoire, and Kechao Xiao

Particles at Liquid Interfaces, Energy Barrier to Particle Surface Adsorption
Frans Spaepen


Softer-than-Skin Electronics, Sensors, and Adaptive Materials
R.J. Wood, G.M. Whitesides, and Z. Suo

Universal Gripper for Soft Robotics
G.M. Whitesides and R.J. Wood

Crystals on Curved Surfaces
V.N. Manoharan and D.R. Nelson

Statistical Mechanics of Pressurized Shells
D.R. Nelson and D.A. Weitz

Conical Indentation of PDMS Gels
Z. Suo and J.J. Vlassak

Nanoporous Structures by Colloidal Co-Assembly
J. Aizenberg and L. Mahadevan

New Route to Fabricating PDMS-Based Microfluidic Components
D.R. Clarke and Z. Suo

Soft Lithography Fabrication
New Shared Experimental Facility

New England Workshop on the Mechanics of Materials and Structures


Aberration Corrected Electron Microscopes
New Tools in the Shared Experimental Facilities

Catalysis for CO2 Reduction
Aspuru-Guzik, Betley, Friend

Creating New High Tech Jobs

Development of a RheoConfocal Microscope

Entropy Favors Asymmetry in Colloidal Self-Assembly
Guangnan Meng, Natalie Arkus, Michael P. Brenner, and Vinothan N. Manoharan

Ferro-Sponges for Drug and Cell Delivery
Xuanhe Zhao, Jaeyun Kim, and David Mooney

Pneumatic Belt
Xin Chen, Coskun Kocabas, and George M. Whitesides

Sequential Adsorption Model of Microfiber Clustering
Jayson Paulose, David R. Nelson, and Joanna Aizenberg

Soft Matter Science Revealed through Cooking

Spindle Nanosurgery by Femtosecond Laser
Valeria Nuzzo, Eric Mazur, Jan Brugues, and Dan Needleman


Soft Electrostatic Patches
Robert J. Wood and Michael Petralia

New Paradigm for Shared Experimental Facilities
TA Instruments Center for Thermal and Mechanical Analysis

New Ordered Hierarchical Helical Assemblies
Boaz Pokroy, Sung H. Kang, L. Mahadevan, and Joanna Aizenberg

Combinatorial Nano-Calorimetry on Ti-Ni-Zr
Joost J. Vlassak and Patrick J. McCluskey

Osmotically-Driven Flows in Microchannels Separated by a Semi-Permeable Membrane
N. Michele Holbrook and Jinkee Lee (Harvard); Kaare Hartvig Jensen, Thomas Bohr, and Henrik Bruus (Technical University of Denmark)

Engineering the Optical Properties of Colloidal Suspensions
Adeline Perro, Guangnan Meng, and Vinothan N. Manoharan

From Bean to Bar: The Sweet Science of Chocolate Holiday Lecture for Families
Howard A. Stone and Amy Rowat

Cooking and Science: A Conversation on Creativity
Ferran Adrià (El Bulli, Barcelona, Spain)

Tracking Cells in Three Dimensions
Prakriti Tayalia, David Mooney, and Eric Mazur

Muira-Foldable Thin Films
Jin-Oh You, Radhika Nagpal, and Debra Auguste



BASF Advanced Research Initiative at Harvard

Squishy, Gooey, Stretchy: The Science of Making Pizza
Holiday Lecture for Families

H.A. Stone and A. Rowat

Defects in Thin Nematic Shells
D.R. Nelson and D.A. Weitz

Biomimetic Thin Film Muscles
K.K. Parker and G.M. Whitesides

Behavior of Microtubules in Cells
L. Mahadevan and D.A. Weitz

Shear Transformation Zones in Colloidal Glasses
F. Spaepen and D.A. Weitz



Rheometer Facility

Industrial Outreach Workshop

Holiday Lecture for Children and Parents
Howard A. Stone

Gender Equity Workshop
Cynthia M. Friend

A Biophysical and Biomechanical Analysis of Worm Motile Behavior
Aravintham Samuel and Lakshminarayan Mahadevan

Optimal Vein Density in Artificial and Real Leaves
M. Zwienicki, N.M. Holbrook, L. Mahadevan, and D.A. Weitz

How Bumps on Whale Flippers Delay Stall
Ernst van Nierop, Silas Alben, and Michael P. Brenner

Surface Tension Driven Motion
Jacques Dumais

Optical Tweezers
Mara Prentiss

Probing Neuronal Origin of Behavior in C. Elegans
Samuel Chung, Aravinthan Samuel, Eric Mazur, and Jonathan Kamler

Hybrid Structures of Hard and Soft Materials of Small Features
Zhigang Suo

Fundamental Structural Rearrangements in a Flowing Glass
Frans Spaepen and David A. Weitz


The P-nDSC: A Combinatorial Approach to Thermal Analysis of Materials
Colloidal Crystals Nanoindentation of Colloidal Crystals
Nano Laser Surgery Sub-Cellular Nanosurgery in Live Cells Using Ultrashort Laser Pulses
Cells on Asymmetric Patterns Cells on Asymmetric Patterns
Nematic Textures in Spherical Shells
Microfluidic Assembly of Colloidal Armor Microfluidic Assembly of Colloidal Armor
Surface Tension Rockets Surface Tension Rockets
Self-Assembly of Supported and Unsupported Thin Films
Public Presentations
Postdoctoral Professional Development: Cool Labs, Hot Topics at the Museum of Science, Boston
Frontiers of Soft Condensed Matter Workshop:
Inter-MRSEC and Industry Partnership
Creation of New High Tech Jobs


Double Emulsions: Droplets inside Droplets
D.A. Weitz
Public Presentations/Strange Matter Exhibit
Enriching Teacher Professional Development and K12 Education through RET
A Low-Cost and Portable Medical and Diagnostic Devices Targeted for the Third World
G.M. Whitesides and D.A. Edwards
Biomechanics at the Scale of the Cell and below Using Laser Surgery
D. Ingber, E. Mazur and D.A. Weitz
Direct Visualization of Shear in a Colloidal Glass
F. Spaepen and D.A. Weitz
Crawling of C. Elegans: How a Worm's Motion Leads to Fundamental Understanding at the Interface of Biomechanics and Neuroscience
A. Samuel and L. Mahadevan


Career Development for Young Scientists
Educational Programs
Fracture in Drying Nanoparticle Suspensions
Weitz, Hutchinson, and Xie


From Bosnian Emigré to Graduate Study
Tanja Hadzic, (Department of Immunolgy, University of Iowa)
How Research Opportunities Shape Scientific Careers
Dr. Nadya Mason, (Society of Junior Fellows, Harvard University).
colloidosomes Colloidosomes: Self-Assembled Permeable Solid Shells
Packing Spheres on a Spherical Surface: New Solution to a 100-year-old Problem
Nelson and Weitz


Attractive Interactions Between Like-Charged Colloidal Particle on Surfaces Attractive Interactions Between Like-Charged Colloidal Particle on Surfaces
Michael Brenner and David Weitz
Stress Evolution During E-Beam Deposition of Amorphous Alumina Stress Evolution During E-Beam Deposition of Amorphous Alumina
Frans Spaepen
Novel Laser Patterning of Silicon Surfaces Novel Laser Patterning of Silicon Surfaces
Cynthia Friend and Eric Mazur
CARS Imaging of Cells
Sunney Xie


Avalanche Photodiode Avalanche Photodiode using Microtextured Silicon
Eric Mazur and Cynthia Friend
Ab-initio Multiscale Simulation of Piezoelectric Response Ab-initio Multiscale Simulation of Piezoelectric Response
Efthimios Kaxiras and Jim Rice
Fabrication of Complex, 3D Microstructures Fabrication of Complex, 3-D Microstructures
George Whitesides
Photograph showing a microfluidic device we used for generating gradients of a green and red dyes in solution. Generating Microgradients
George Whitesides and Howard Stone
Central slice (left) and side view (right) of a cell photodisrupted by 100-fs laser pulses seen by fluorescence confocal microscopy. Photodisruption in Cells using Femtosecond Laser Pulses
Eric Mazur and Donald Ingber
Side-view SEM images of structures produced in bulk glass using 110-fs laser pulses focused by a 0.45 NA microscope objective. Micromachining Transparent Materials with Femtosecond Laser Pulses
Eric Mazur
Atom Cloud Trapped by Magnetic Laminate inside a Magneto Optical Trap
Mara Prentiss
The upper part of the figure shows the computed electron wave flow over the potential shown in the lower part (high potential is white, low is green). Electron Flow in a High Mobility Two Dimensional Electron Gas
Eric Heller and Robert Westervelt
The upper part of the figure shows the computed electron wave flow over the potential shown in the lower part (high potential is white, low is green). Fluctuating Spin g-tensor in Small Metal Grains
Bertrand Halperin
Ballistic Electron Emission Microscopy and Spectroscopy. BEEM/BEES.
Venky Narayanamurti
Three-dimensional networks of fluid channels in PDMS Three-Dimensional Networks of Fluid Channels in PDMS
George Whitesides
Optical micrograph of optical waveguides Optical Waveguides
Eric Mazur
Uniform nanowires Ultrathin Uniform Nanowires
Michael Tinkham
Micro-electromagnet Atom Guide Micro-Electromagnet Atom Guide
Mara Prentiss and Robert Westervelt
GaSb Self-assembled Quantum Dots on GaAs GaSb Self-Assembled Quantum Dots on GaAs
Venky Narayanamurti