Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:

Colloidal gels

Clay goes patchy

Empty liquids and equilibrium gels have so far been only theoretical possibilities, predicted for colloids with patchy interactions. But evidence of both has now been found in Laponite, a widely studied clay.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Phase diagram of diluted Laponite suspensions6.
Figure 2: Models of patchy colloids.


  1. Bianchi, E., Largo, J., Tartaglia, P., Zaccarelli, E. & Sciortino, F. Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 168301 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Glotzer, S. C. & Solomon, M. J. Nature Mater. 6, 557–562 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Hermans, T. M. et al. Nature Nanotech. 4, 721–726 (2009).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Pawar, A. B. & Kretzschmar, I. Langmuir 24, 355–358 (2008).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Hong, L., Cacciuto, A., Luijten, E. & Granick, S. Langmuir 24, 621–625 (2008).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Ruzicka, B. et al. Nature Mater. 10, 56–60 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. van Olphen, H. Prog. Colloid Polym. Sci. 61, 46–53 (1976).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Lu, P. J. et al. Nature 453, 499–503 (2008).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Kutter, S., Hansen, J-P., Sprik, M. & Boek, E. J. Chem. Phys. 112, 311–322 (2000).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kegel, W., Lekkerkerker, H. Clay goes patchy. Nature Mater 10, 5–6 (2011).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing