Self-Assembly of Islands on Spherical Substrates by Surface Instability

Xiangbiao LIAO, Junfeng XIAO, Yong NI, Chaorong LI, Xi CHEN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Through strain-induced morphological instability, protruding patterns of roughly commensurate nanostructures are self-assembled on the surface of spherical core/shell systems. A three-dimensional (3D) phase field model is established for a closed substrate. We investigate both numerically and analytically the kinetics of the morphological evolution, from grooves to separated islands, which are sensitive to substrate curvature, misfit strain, and modulus ratio between the core and shell. The faster growth rate of surface undulation is associated with the core/shell system of a harder substrate, larger radius, or misfit strain. On the basis of a Ag core/SiO2 shell system, the self-assemblies of SiO2 nanoislands were explored experimentally. The numerical and experimental studies herein could guide the fabrication of ordered quantum structures via surface instability on closed and curved substrates. © 2017 American Chemical Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2611-2617
Number of pages7
JournalACS Nano
Issue number3
Early online date13 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

X.C. acknowledges the support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (11172231 and 11372241), ARPA-E (DE-AR0000396) and AFOSR (FA9550-12-1-0159); X.L. and J.X. acknowledge the China Scholarship Council for financial support. Y.N. acknowledges the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDB22040502).


  • closed and curved substrates
  • misfit strain
  • ordered quantum structures
  • surface instability


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