Ordered states in systems of macroscopic particles

Abstract

ONE of the most striking observations of systems consisting of macroscopic particles ( 1 µm in diameter) dispersed in a uniform background, is that in certain circumstances the particles can form themselves into an ordered or solid-like array. The importance and significance of these structures to a wide range of materials, including virus suspensions, soils, lacquers and latices, was recently discussed quite extensively by Efromov1. In recent years this has also been the subject of considerable experimentation on well characterised polystyrene latices2–4. We have developed a theoretical model for a stable colloidal dispersion5 in which this disorder–order transition in a system of macroscopic particles is treated as the analogue of the fluid–solid transition in molecular materials. This theoretical approach shows that this ordering is a consequence of the repulsive forces between the particles. We show the more detailed features of the structure of the disordered and ordered phases of systems of colloidal or macroscopic particles.

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