Depletion interactions between colloidal particles surrounded by smaller depletants are typically characterized by a strong attraction at contact and a moderately repulsive barrier in front of it that extends at distances similar to the size of the depletants; the appearance and height of the barrier basically depend on the concentration and, therefore, the correlation between depletants. From a thermodynamic point of view, the former can drive the system to phase separation or toward non-equilibrium states, such as gel-like states, but its effects on both local and global properties may be controlled by the latter, which acts as a kind of entropic gate. However, the latter has not been entirely analyzed and understood within the context of colloidal mixtures mainly driven by entropy. In this contribution, we present a systematic study of depletion forces in ternary mixtures of hard spherical particles with two species of depletants, in two and three dimensions. We focus the discussion on how the composition of the depletants becomes the main physical parameter that drives the competition between the attractive well and the repulsive barrier. Our results are obtained by means of the integral equation theory of depletion forces and techniques of contraction of the description adapted to molecular dynamics computer simulations.
Competing interactions in the depletion forces of ternary colloidal mixtures
Note: This paper is part of the JCP Special Topic on Depletion Forces and Asakura-Oosawa Theory.
Néstor M. de los Santos-López, Gabriel Pérez-Ángel, José M. Méndez-Alcaraz, Ramón Castañeda-Priego; Competing interactions in the depletion forces of ternary colloidal mixtures. J. Chem. Phys. 14 July 2021; 155 (2): 024901. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0052369
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