We systematically investigated the structure and aggregate morphology of gel networks formed by colloid–polymer mixtures with a moderate colloid volume fraction and different values of the polymer–colloid size ratio, always in the limit of short-range attraction. Using the coordinates obtained from confocal microscopy experiments, we determined the radial, angular, and nearest-neighbor distribution functions together with the cluster radius of gyration as a function of size ratio and polymer concentration. The analysis of the structural correlations reveals that the network structure becomes increasingly less sensitive to the potential strength with the decreasing polymer–colloid size ratio. For the larger size ratios, compact clusters are formed at the onset of network formation and become progressively more branched and elongated with increasing polymer concentration/attraction strength. For the smallest size ratios, we observe that the aggregate structures forming the gel network are characterized by similar morphological parameters for different values of the size ratio and the polymer concentration, indicating a limited evolution of the gel structure with variations of the parameters that determine the interaction potential between colloids.
Potential-invariant network structures in Asakura–Oosawa mixtures with very short attraction range
Note: This paper is part of the JCP Special Topic on Depletion Forces and Asakura–Oosawa Theory.
Fernando Soto-Bustamante, Néstor E. Valádez-Pérez, Ramón Castañeda-Priego, Marco Laurati; Potential-invariant network structures in Asakura–Oosawa mixtures with very short attraction range. J. Chem. Phys. 21 July 2021; 155 (3): 034903. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0052273
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