On the stability and finite-size effects of a columnar phase in single-component systems of hard-rod-like particles

Simone Dussi*, Massimiliano Chiappini, Marjolein Dijkstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Colloidal rod-like particles self-assemble into a variety of liquid crystal phases. In contrast to the formation of the nematic and smectic phases for which it is well understood that it can be driven by entropy, the stabilisation mechanism of a prolate columnar phase ((Formula presented.)), observed for example in fd-virus suspensions, is still unclear. Here, we investigate whether or not a (Formula presented.) phase can exist in a purely entropy-driven single-component system. We perform computer simulations of hard particles with different shapes: spherocylinders, top-shaped rods, cuboidal particles, and crooked rods. We show that the (Formula presented.) phases observed in previous simulation studies are mere artefacts due to either finite-size effects or simulation boxes that are incommensurate with the stable thermodynamic phase. In particular, we observe that the characteristic layering of the stable smectic or crystal phase disappears when the dimension of the simulation box along the direction of the layers is too small. Such a system-size effect depends both on particle shape and the competing phases, and appears to be more pronounced for less anisotropic particles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2792-2805
JournalMolecular Physics
Volume116
Issue number21-22
Early online date12 May 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2018

Keywords

  • columnar phase
  • entropy
  • hard particles
  • Liquid crystals
  • Monte Carlo simulations

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