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Anisotropic viscoelastic phase separation in polydisperse hard rods: non-sticky gelation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3415-3420
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
Early online date31 Jan 2020
DateAccepted/In press - 31 Dec 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jan 2020
DatePublished (current) - 18 Feb 2020


Spinodal demixing into two phases having very different viscosities leads to viscoelastic networks, i.e. gels, usually as a result of attractive particle interactions. Here, however, we demonstrate demixing in a colloidal system of polydisperse rod-like clay particles that is driven by particle repulsions instead. One of the phases is a nematic liquid crystal with a highly anisotropic viscosity, allowing flow along the director but suppressing it in other directions. This phase coexists with a dilute isotropic phase. Real-space analysis and molecular dynamics simulations both reveal a long-lived network structure that is locally anisotropic yet macroscopically isotropic. We show that our system exhibits the characteristics of colloidal gelation and conclude that it represents a new class of material, non-sticky gels.

    Research areas

  • liquid crystals, gels, colloidal rods



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  • Supplementary information PDF

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