Time-resolved microfocused small angle X-ray scattering investigation of the microfluidic concentration of charged nanoparticles

We describe the concentration process of a dispersion of silica nanoparticles undergoing evaporation in a dedicated microfluidic device. Using microfocused small-angle X-ray scattering, we measure in time and space both the concentration field of the dispersion and its structure factor. We show that the electrostatic interactions affect the concentration rate by strongly enhancing the collective diffusion coefficient of the nanoparticle dispersion. En route towards high concentrations, the nanoparticles eventually undergo a liquid-solid phase transition in which we evidence crystallites of micron size.