Temperature as an external field for colloid-polymer mixtures: 'Quenching' by heating and 'melting' by cooling

Shelley L. Taylor*, Robert Evans, C. Patrick Royall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate the response to temperature of a well-known colloid-polymer mixture. At room temperature the gas-liquid critical value of the second virial coefficient of the effective pairwise colloid-colloid interaction for the Asakura-Oosawa model predicts the onset of gelation observed experimentally with remarkable accuracy. Upon cooling the system the effective attraction between colloids induced by polymer depletion is reduced, because the polymer radius of gyration decreases as the θ-temperature is approached. Paradoxically this raises the effective temperature, leading to melting of colloidal gels. We find that the Asakura-Oosawa model of effective colloid interactions, together with a simple description of the polymer temperature response, provides a quantitative description of the observed location of the fluid-gel transition in the colloid volume fraction polymer reservoir number density plane. Further, we present evidence for enhancement of crystallization rates in the vicinity of the metastable critical point.

Original languageEnglish
Article number464128
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Issue number46
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2012


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