Cooperative activated dynamics in dense mixtures of hard and sticky spheres

Douglas C. Viehman, Kenneth S. Schweizer

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The coupled activated dynamics in dense mixtures of repulsive and sticky hard spheres is studied using stochastic nonlinear Langevin equation theory. The effective free energy surface, barriers, saddle point trajectories, and mean first passage times depend in a rich manner on mixture composition, (high) total volume fraction, and attractive interaction strength. In general, there are three types of saddle point trajectories or relaxation pathways: a pure sticky or pure repulsive particle displacement keeping the other species localized, and a cooperative motion involving repulsive and attractive particle displacements. The barrier for activated hopping usually increases with the ratio of sticky to repulsive particle displacement. However, at intermediate values of the displacement ratio it can attain a broad plateau value, and can even exhibit a local maximum, and hence nonmonotonic behavior, at high sticky particle mixture compositions if the attraction strength is modest. The mean first passage, or hopping, times are computed using multidimensional Kramers theory. In most cases the hopping time trends reflect the behavior of the barrier height, especially as the sticky particle attraction strengths become large. However, there are dramatic exceptions associated with cooperative repulsive and attractive particle trajectories where the barriers are high but a greatly enhanced number of such trajectories exist near the saddle point.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number051404
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 21 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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