Glasslike Arrest in Spinodal Decomposition as a Route to Colloidal Gelation
Colloid-polymer mixtures can undergo spinodal decomposition into colloid-rich and colloid-poor regions. Gelation results when interconnected colloid-rich regions solidify. We show that this occurs when these regions undergo a glass transition, leading to dynamic arrest of the spinodal decomposition. The characteristic length scale of the gel decreases with increasing quench depth, and the nonergodicity parameter exhibits a pronounced dependence on scattering vector. Mode coupling theory gives a good description of the dynamics, provided we use the full static structure as input.