27 Juin – Thesis defense - Andrii Repula

09 h30 Amphi - Paul Pascal Research Center (Pessac)

Structure and dynamics of rod-like colloids with patchy interaction.

Dispersions of filamentous viruses exhibit a plethora of liquid crystalline states including nematic, smectic (or lamellar), and columnar phases. Self-organization of these rod-shaped colloidal particles has been shown to map the hard-core behavior for which the interaction potential is purely repulsive. In this thesis, the structural and dynamical properties of rods with highly localized directional attractive interaction (or “patchiness”) between one of the ends of the particles have been studied. Local attraction has been achieved by functionalizing the filamentous virus tips via regioselective grafting hydrophobic fluorescent dyes which act as enthalpic patch. The single tip attraction strength can be tuned by varying the number of bound dye molecules. We have shown that increasing attraction interaction stabilizes the smectic phase at the cost of nematic phase leaving all other liquid crystalline transitions unchanged. Furthermore, the fluorescent dye molecules on the viral tips enable the observation of liquid crystalline lamellar structures with improved contrast and resolution. In situ visualization of topological defects in the smectic phase such as edge and screw dislocations has been thus performed at the lattice periodicity level. The displacement field around an edge dislocation has been experimentally established and compared to the profile predicted by elastic theory. Screw dislocations have been also evidenced, for which the core size and handedness have been determined.
Dynamics of patchy and pristine viruses has been investigated by tracking individual rod displacements. In all liquid crystalline phases, the self-diffusion of patchy rods has been found to be hindered compared to the self-diffusion of pristine rods. Particularly in the smectic phase, patchy rods tend to reside within the layers mainly diffusing in the direction perpendicular to the main virus axis, contrary to pristine rods whose self-diffusion between layers is far more pronounced. This behavior is explained by the higher unidimensional smectic ordering potential experimentally measured in the dispersions of patchy rods compared to that obtained for pristine rods.
We have combined both entropic and enthalpic patchinesses by adding non-adsorbing polymers into tip-functionalized viral dispersions. In this case, rod sides act as entropic patchy sites due to attractive depletion interaction between them. Small angle X-ray scattering and optical microscopy techniques have been used to compare the structural and dynamical properties of pristine and tip-functionalized viral dispersions mixed with hydrophilic polymers acting as depletants agent. We have determined and compared the phase diagrams obtained for the two types of virus-polymer systems.
In summary, we have demonstrated a new and efficient way to control the structure of complex fluids by implementing site-specific modifications of building blocks.

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