College of Science

SEMINAR: Vinothan N. Manoharan [Harvard]

Crystals on a sphere

Nov 7, 2013 10:00 AM to Nov 7, 2013 12:00 PM at Building 4, Room 2-314

Vinothan N. ManoharanThe growth patterns of crystals have been studied for centuries, but there are still phenomena to be discovered. I will discuss experiments that examine how crystals grow on the surface of a sphere. We make these crystals using micrometer-scale spherical particles called colloids, so that we can image the structure of the crystals directly by using an optical microscope. We find that whereas on flat surfaces our crystals are compact and isotropic, on curved surfaces they look more like snowflakes, forming branched networks of slender domains. I will explain how these patterns arise from the compression of the crystal as it grows on the sphere surface. These results, which show that curvature can fundamentally alter the growth and shape of ordered domains, may shed some light on how biological systems, such as vesicles or viruses, self-assemble.