Hard Competition: Stabilizing the Elusive Biaxial Nematic Phase in Suspensions of Colloidal Particles with Extreme Lengths

Simone Dussi, Nikos Tasios, Tara Drwenski, René Van Roij, Marjolein Dijkstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We use computer simulations to study the existence and stability of a biaxial nematic Nb phase in systems of hard polyhedral cuboids, triangular prisms, and rhombic platelets, characterized by a long (L), medium (M), and short (S) particle axis. For all three shape families, we find stable Nb states provided the shape is not only close to the so-called dual shape with M=LS but also sufficiently anisotropic with L/S>9,11,14,23 for rhombi, (two types of) triangular prisms, and cuboids, respectively, corresponding to anisotropies not considered before. Surprisingly, a direct isotropic-Nb transition does not occur in these systems due to a destabilization of Nb by a smectic (for cuboids and prisms) or a columnar (for platelets) phase at small L/S or by an intervening uniaxial nematic phase at large L/S. Our results are confirmed by a density functional theory provided the third virial coefficient is included and a continuous rather than a discrete (Zwanzig) set of particle orientations is taken into account.

Original languageEnglish
Article number177801
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Volume120
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2018

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