In-situ and quantitative imaging of evaporation-induced stratification in binary suspensions

Ellard Hooiveld, Hanne M. van der Kooij, Marijn Kisters, Thomas E. Kodger, Joris Sprakel, Jasper van der Gucht*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The drying of a multi-component dispersion, such as water-based paint, ink and sunscreen to form a solid film, is a widespread process. Binary colloidal suspensions have proven capable of spontaneous layer formation through size segregation during drying. To design bespoke stratification patterns, a deeper understanding of how these emerge is crucial. Here, we visualize and quantify the spatiotemporally evolving concentration profiles in situ and with high resolution using confocal fluorescence microscopy of custom-designed binary dispersions in a well-defined geometry. Our results conclusively establish two distinct stratification routes, which give rise to three layered structures. A first thin layer develops directly underneath the evaporation front in which large particles are kinetically trapped. At later times, asymmetrical particle interactions lead to the formation of two subsequent layers enriched in small and large particles, respectively. The spatial extent and magnitude of demixing strongly depend on the initial volume fraction. We explain and reproduce the experimental concentration profiles using a theoretical model based on dynamic arrest and higher-order thermodynamic and hydrodynamic interactions. These insights unravel the key mechanisms underlying colloidal auto-stratification in multi-component suspensions, and allow preprogramming of stratification patterns in single-deposition formulations for future applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)666-675
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Issue numberPart B
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2023


  • Binary Suspension
  • Coating
  • Colloidal dynamics
  • Diffusiophoresis
  • Evaporation
  • In-situ Fluorescence Imaging
  • Jamming
  • Non-equilibrium thermodynamics
  • Stratification


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