Soft polyhedral particles based on variations of the cubic symmetry group are produced from a precursor emulsion by extracting solvent to grow facets on the droplets. The droplets transform into liquid crystals with solid-like rheology and controlled size and shape. Small-angle X-ray scattering confirms a bicontinuous cubic liquid crystalline phase forms from aqueous glycerol monoolein and is responsible for the particle faceting observed. Different polyhedra are produced by varying face growth rates through control of precursor droplet size, system temperature, and solubilization and adsorption of guest molecules. More exotic faceted shapes can be formed by the soft particles by applying asymmetric solvent removal gradients and by deforming the precursor droplets into, for example, ellipsoids before crystallization. The method is a powerful means to produce soft polyhedra, using continuous microfluidic or other approaches, or to act as templates for hard polyhedral particle synthesis.

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Last edited: Friday September 10, 2010

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