The role of quench rate in colloidal gels


Simulations of colloidal gels with clusters labelled by the Topological Cluster Classification identifier.


Interactions between colloidal particles have hitherto usually been fixed by the suspension composition. Recent experimental developments now enable the control of interactions in-situ. Here we use Brownian dynamics simulations to investigate the effect of controlling interactions on gelation, by “quenching” the system from an equilibrium fluid to a gel. We find that, contrary to the normal case of an instantaneous quench, where the local structure of the gel is highly disordered, controlled quenching results in a gel with a higher degree of local order. Under sufficiently slow quenching, local crystallisation is found, which is strongly enhanced when a monodisperse system is used. The higher the degree of local order, the smaller the mean squared displacement, indicating an enhancement of gel stability.

C. P. Royall & A. Malins
Faraday Discussions 158, 301 (2012)

DOI: 10.1039/c2fd20041d
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