(9b) Development of Nanoparticle Alignment Regimes in Drying Cellulose Nanocrystal Droplet Suspensions for Additive Manufacturing

Bortner, M. J., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Pritchard, C., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Roman, M., Virginia Tech
Nanoparticle suspensions have potential for a number of drop-on-demand applications, where they are deposited in droplet form and subsequently dried via evaporation of the suspending agent. The droplet drying process often results in deposition of ring patterns, typically referred to as the coffee ring effect. When drying picoliter-sized, aqueous, cellulose nanocrystal droplet suspensions, which are on the size scale of traditional drop-on-demand technologies, we observe alignment of these rod-like nanoparticles in multiple orientations. A radial alignment is formed near the center of the droplet, and tangential orientation is observed in the particles along the circumference of the droplet. Tuning particle orientation enables unique opportunities for control of nanocomposite structure required for next generation optical and electronic materials that can be generated using drop-on-demand or voxel based technologies. To successfully control the nanoparticle orientation during the drying process, a fundamental understanding of the alignment mechanism is necessary.

We have developed a 3-dimensional, continuum-based, finite element model implementing a deforming mesh to understand the impact of shear induced alignment driven by evaporative flow. Simulations of a single-phase, sessile water droplet suggest a relationship between velocity profile, shear stress, and particle orientation. We have explored the coupled effects of Marangoni flows, air convection, heat transport, and concentration dependent viscosity models on evaporation of single-phase picoliter-sized droplets leading to new insights into particle orientation in the evaporation of colloidal droplets that result from a complex interplay of initial concentration, substrate surface functionality, and particle-particle interactions. Velocity and shear stress profiles indicate the development of radial flows enacting shear stresses on the fluid driving the alignment of rod-like nanoparticles in the flow direction which varies with location in the confined flow field.