3 years ago

Hard competition: stabilizing the elusive biaxial nematic phase in suspensions of colloidal particles with extreme lengths.

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

We use computer simulations to study the existence and stability of a biaxial nematic $N_b$ 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 $N_b$ states provided the shape is not only close to the so-called dual shape with $M = \sqrt{LS}$ but also sufficiently anisotropic with $L/S>9,11,14, 23$ for rhombi, prisms, and cuboids, respectively, corresponding to anisotropies not considered before. Surprisingly, a direct isotropic-$N_b$ transition does not occur in these systems due to a destabilization of $N_b$ 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.

Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1801.07134

DOI: arXiv:1801.07134v1

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