To study the self-assembly behavior of colloidal spheres in the solid/liquid interface and elucidate the mechanism of liquid crystal phase transition under microgravity, a Colloidal Material Box (CMB) was designed which consists of three modules: (i) colloidal evaporation experimental module, made up of a sample management unit, an injection management unit and an optical observation unit; (ii) liquid crystal phase transition experimental module, including a sample management unit and an optical observation unit; (iii) electronic control module. The following two experimental plans will be performed inside the CMB aboard the SJ-10 satellite in space. (i) Self-assembly of colloidal spheres (with and without Au shell) induced by droplet evaporation, allowing observation of the dynamic process of the colloidal spheres within the droplet and the change of the droplet outer profile during evaporation; (ii) Phase behavior of Mg2Al LDHs suspensions in microgravity. The experimental results will be the first experimental observations of depositing ordered colloidal crystals and their self-assembly behavior under microgravity, and will illustrate the influence of gravity on liquid crystal phase transition.
Project is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos.11202209, 11472275) and Strategic Priority Research Program on Space Science, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (A) (Grant Nos. XDA04020202, XDA04020406).