Re-entrant kinetic arrest and elasticity of concentrated suspensions of spherical and nonspherical repulsive and attractive colloids
We have designed and studied a new experimental colloidal system to probe how the weak shape anisotropy of uniaxial particles and variable repulsive (Coulombic) and attractive (van der Waals) forces influence slow dynamics, shear elasticity, and kinetic vitrification in dense suspensions. The introduction of shape anisotropy dramatically delays kinetic vitrification and reduces the shear elastic modulus of colloidal diatomics relative to their chemically identical spherical analogs. Tuning the interparticle interaction from repulsive, to nearly hard, to attractive by increasing suspension ionic strength reveals a nonmonotonic re-entrant dynamical phase behavior (glass–fluid–gel) and a rich variation of the shear modulus. The experimental results are quantitatively confronted with recent predictions of ideal mode coupling and activated barrier hopping theories of kinetic arrest and elasticity, and good agreement is generally found with a couple of exceptions. The systems created may have interesting materials science applications such as flowable ultrahigh volume fraction suspensions, or responsive fluids that can be reversibly switched between a flowing liquid and a solid nonequilibrium state based on in situ modification of suspension ionic strength.