Staged phase separation in the I–I–N tri-phase region of platelet–sphere mixtures
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Mixtures of colloids with different sizes or shapes are ubiquitous in nature and extensively applied in industries. Phase transition pathways and kinetics in this model system should be investigated because of the difficulty in observing tri-phase coexistence in colloidal platelet-sphere mixtures. Similar to the polymer-sphere mixtures, the phase transition pathway has three main categories. Analytical results show a staged phase transition process in which the mixture first separates into one or two metastable phases, then further separates, and subsequently reaches tri-phase equilibrium. Unique to our system, and different from the gas-liquid-crystal coexistence in colloid-polymer mixtures, the platelet-sphere mixture reached a gas-liquid-liquid crystal (nematic) coexistence. Thus, the different phases are easy to distinguish using the birefringence of the liquid crystals. In addition, the volume fraction of the liquid crystal formation in the ZrP platelet suspensions is much lower than for the crystal formation in hard spheres.
author list (cited authors)
Chen, M., He, M., Lin, P., Chen, Y., & Cheng, Z.