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)