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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Visualizing Interfacial Jamming Using an Aggregation‐Induced‐Emission Molecular Reporter


With the interfacial jamming of nanoparticles (NPs), a load-bearing network of NPs forms as the areal density of NPs increases, converting the assembly from a liquid-like into a solid-like assembly. Unlike vitrification, the lineal packing of the NPs in the network is denser, while the remaining NPs can remain in a liquid-like state. It is a challenge to determine the point at which the assemblies jam, since both jamming and vitrification lead to a solid-like behavior of the assemblies. Herein, we show a real-time fluorescence imaging method to probe the evolution of the interfacial dynamics of NP surfactants at the water/oil interface using aggregation-induced emission (AIE) as a reporter for the transition of the assemblies into the jammed state. The AIEgens show typical fluorescence behavior at densities at which they can move and rotate. However, when aggregation of these fluorophores occurs, the smaller intermolecular separation distance arrests rotation, and a significant enhancement in the fluorescence intensity occurs.

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