Self-assembly of gold nanoparticles at the oil-vapor interface: from mono- to multilayers

Alkylthiol-coated gold nanoparticles spontaneously segregate from dispersion in toluene to the toluene-vapor interface. We show that surface tension drops during segregation with a rate that depends on particle concentration. Mono- and multilayers of particles form depending on particle concentration, time, and temperature. X-ray reflectometry indicates fast monolayer formation and slow multilayer formation. A model that combines diffusion-limited segregation driven by surface energy and heterogeneous agglomeration driven by dispersive van der Waals particle interactions is proposed to describe film formation.