Partial pair-correlation functions of colloidal suspensions with continuous polydispersity can be challenging to characterize from optical microscopy or computer simulation data due to inadequate sampling. As a result, it is common to adopt an effective one-component description of the structure that ignores the differences between particle types. Unfortunately, whether this kind of simplified description preserves or averages out information important for understanding the behavior of the fluid depends on the degree of polydispersity and can be difficult to assess, especially when the corresponding multicomponent description of the pair correlations is unavailable for comparison. Here, we present a computer simulation study that examines the implications of adopting an effective one-component structural description of a polydisperse fluid. The square-well model that we investigate mimics key aspects of the experimental behavior of suspended colloids with short-range, polymer-mediated attractions. To characterize the partial pair-correlation functions and thermodynamic excess entropy of this system, we introduce a Monte Carlo sampling strategy appropriate for fluids with a large number of pseudo-components. The data from our simulations at high particle concentrations, as well as exact theoretical results for dilute systems, show how qualitatively different trends between structural order and particle attractions emerge from the multicomponent and effective one-component treatments, even with systems characterized by moderate polydispersity. We examine consequences of these differences for excess-entropy based scalings of shear viscosity, and we discuss how use of the multicomponent treatment reveals similarities between the corresponding dynamic scaling behaviors of attractive colloids and liquid water that the effective one-component analysis does not capture.
Implications of the effective one-component analysis of pair correlations in colloidal fluids with polydispersity
Mark J. Pond, Jeffrey R. Errington, Thomas M. Truskett; Implications of the effective one-component analysis of pair correlations in colloidal fluids with polydispersity. J. Chem. Phys. 28 September 2011; 135 (12): 124513. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.3643118
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