Gravity-Induced Aging in Glasses of Colloidal Hard Spheres
The influence of gravity on the long-time behavior of the mean squared displacement in glasses of polydisperse colloidal hard spheres was studied by means of real-space fluorescent recovery after photobleaching. We present, for the first time, a significant influence of gravity on the mean squared displacements of the particles. In particular, we observe that systems which are glasses under gravity (with a gravitational length on the order of tens of micrometers) show anomalous diffusion over several decades in time if the gravitational length is increased by an order of magnitude. No influence of gravity was observed in systems below the glass transition density. We show that this behavior is caused by gravity dramatically accelerating aging in colloidal hard sphere glasses. This behavior explains the observation that colloidal hard sphere systems which are a glass on Earth rapidly crystallize in space.