Category Archives: gel physics

Active interaction switching controls the dynamic heterogeneity of soft colloidal dispersions

M. Bley, P.I. Hurtado, J. Dzubiella, A. Moncho-Jord√°

We employ Reactive Dynamical Density Functional Theory (R-DDFT) and Reactive Brownian Dynamics (R-BD) simulations to investigate the dynamics of a suspension of active soft Gaussian colloids with binary interaction switching, i.e., a one-component colloidal system in which every particle stochastically switches at predefined rates between two interaction states with different mobility. Using R-DDFT we extend a theory previously developed to access the dynamics of inhomogeneous liquids to study the influence of the switching activity on the self and distinct part of the Van Hove function in bulk solution, and determine the corresponding mean squared displacement of the switching particles. Our results demonstrate that, even though the average diffusion coefficient is not affected by the switching activity, it significantly modifies the non-equilibrium dynamics and diffusion coefficients of the individual particles, leading to a crossover from short to long times, with a regime for intermediate times showing anomalous diffusion. In addition, the self-part of the van Hove function has a Gaussian form at short and long times, but becomes non-Gaussian at intermediates ones, having a crossover between short and large displacements. The corresponding self-intermediate scattering function shows the two-step relaxation patters typically observed in soft materials with heterogeneous dynamics such as glasses and gels. We also introduce a phenomenological Continuous Time Random Walk (CTRW) theory to understand the heterogeneous diffusion of this system. R-DDFT results are in excellent agreement with R-BD simulations and the analytical predictions of CTRW theory, thus confirming that R-DDFT constitutes a powerful method to investigate not only the structure and phase behavior, but also the dynamical properties of non-equilibrium active switching colloidal suspensions.

Soft Matter 18, 397 (2022); arXiv:2112.01191

Relaxation dynamics in a transient network fluid with competing gel and glass phases

Pinaki Chaudhuri, Pablo I. Hurtado, Ludovic Berthier, Walter Kob

screenshot_57We use computer simulations to study the relaxation dynamics of a model for oil-in-water microemulsion droplets linked with telechelic polymers. This system exhibits both gel and glass phases and we show that the competition between these two arrest mechanisms can result in a complex, three-step decay of the time correlation functions, controlled by two different localization lengthscales. For certain combinations of the parameters, this competition gives rise to an anomalous logarithmic decay of the correlation functions and a subdiffusive particle motion, which can be understood as a simple crossover effect between the two relaxation processes. We establish a simple criterion for this logarithmic decay to be observed. We also find a further logarithmically slow relaxation related to the relaxation of floppy clusters of particles in a crowded environment, in agreement with recent findings in other models for dense chemical gels. Finally, we characterize how the competition of gel and glass arrest mechanisms affects the dynamical heterogeneities and show that for certain combination of parameters these heterogeneities can be unusually large. By measuring the four-point dynamical susceptibility, we probe the cooperativity of the motion and find that with increasing coupling this cooperativity shows a maximum before it decreases again, indicating the change in the nature of the relaxation dynamics. Our results suggest that compressing gels to large densities produces novel arrested phases that have a new and complex dynamics.

J. Chem. Phys. 142, 174503 (2015); arXiv:1502.00249