Replica and effective-medium theory methods are employed to elucidate how to massively reconfigure a colloidal assembly to achieve globally homogeneous, strongly clustered, and percolated equilibrium states of high electrical conductivity at low physical volume fractions. A key idea is to employ a quench-disordered, large-mesh rigid-rod network as a templating internal field. By exploiting bulk phase separation frustration and the tunable competing processes of colloid adsorption on the low-dimensional network and fluctuation-driven colloid clustering in the pore spaces, two distinct spatial organizations of greatly enhanced particle contacts can be achieved. As a result, a continuous, but very abrupt, transition from an insulating to metallic-like state can be realized via a small change of either the colloid-template or colloid-colloid attraction strength. The approach is generalizable to more complicated template or colloidal architectures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)