Percolation, phase separation, and gelation in fluids and mixtures of spheres and rods

Ryan Jadrich, Kenneth S. Schweizer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relationship between kinetic arrest, connectivity percolation, structure and phase separation in protein, nanoparticle, and colloidal suspensions is a rich and complex problem. Using a combination of integral equation theory, connectivity percolation methods, nave mode coupling theory, and the activated dynamics nonlinear Langevin equation approach, we study this problem for isotropic one-component fluids of spheres and variable aspect ratio rigid rods, and also percolation in rod-sphere mixtures. The key control parameters are interparticle attraction strength and its (short) spatial range, total packing fraction, and mixture composition. For spherical particles, formation of a homogeneous one-phase kinetically stable and percolated physical gel is predicted to be possible, but depends on non-universal factors. On the other hand, the dynamic crossover to activated dynamics and physical bond formation, which signals discrete cluster formation below the percolation threshold, almost always occurs in the one phase region. Rods more easily gel in the homogeneous isotropic regime, but whether a percolation or kinetic arrest boundary is reached first upon increasing interparticle attraction depends sensitively on packing fraction, rod aspect ratio and attraction range. Overall, the connectivity percolation threshold is much more sensitive to attraction range than either the kinetic arrest or phase separation boundaries. Our results appear to be qualitatively consistent with recent experiments on polymer-colloid depletion systems and brush mediated attractive nanoparticle suspensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number234902
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 21 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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