We studied the phase separation and spatial arrangement of gold nanorods and nanospheres after evaporative self-assembly from aqueous suspension. Depending on the position relative to the contact line of the drying droplet, spheres and rods separate into various liquid-crystalline phases. Nanorods exhibit a strong preference for side-by-side alignment, giving rise to smectic phases; spheres in solution are forced out of these regions and form close-packed arrays. We discuss this self-separation into nanorod- and sphere-rich phases in terms of various interactions, including electrostatic, van der Waals, and deplection interactions forces. The experimental results are compared to quantitative calculations of the colloidal interaction energies. We also describe and discuss the role of the surfactant on the different crystal facets of the nanorods on the assembly process.
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