We explored the usefulness of electric field gradients for the manipulation of the particle concentration in suspensions of charged colloids, which have long-ranged repulsive interactions. In particular, we studied the compression obtained by ``negative'' dielectrophoresis, which drives the particles to the regions of lowest field strength, thus preventing unwanted structural changes by induced dipole-dipole interactions. We used several sample cell layouts and suspension compositions, with a different range of the interparticle repulsions. For these systems, we obtained sufficient compression to observe a transition from the initial fluid phase to a random hexagonal close-packed crystal, as well as a body-centered cubic crystal. The heterogeneous dielectrophoretic crystallization mechanism involved an intriguing ``pluglike'' motion of the crystal, similar to what we have previously reported for hard-sphere suspensions. In this way, remarkably large single crystals were formed of several millimeters wide and a couple of centimeters long. Moreover, we found that these crystals could be compressed to such an extent that it led to an anisotropic deformation (``buckling'') and, upon subsequent relaxation, a reorientation of the lattice, while stacking errors disappeared. These striking differences with the compressed hard-sphere crystals that we studied before [M. E. Leunissen et al., J. Chem. Phys. 128, 164508 (2008).] are likely due to the smaller elastic moduli of the present lower-density soft-sphere crystals
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