Jamming phase diagram for attractive particles

Nature. 2001 Jun 14;411(6839):772-5. doi: 10.1038/35081021.


A wide variety of systems, including granular media, colloidal suspensions and molecular systems, exhibit non-equilibrium transitions from a fluid-like to a solid-like state, characterized solely by the sudden arrest of their dynamics. Crowding or jamming of the constituent particles traps them kinetically, precluding further exploration of the phase space. The disordered fluid-like structure remains essentially unchanged at the transition. The jammed solid can be refluidized by thermalization, through temperature or vibration, or by an applied stress. The generality of the jamming transition led to the proposal of a unifying description, based on a jamming phase diagram. It was further postulated that attractive interactions might have the same effect in jamming the system as a confining pressure, and thus could be incorporated into the generalized description. Here we study experimentally the fluid-to-solid transition of weakly attractive colloidal particles, which undergo markedly similar gelation behaviour with increasing concentration and decreasing thermalization or stress. Our results support the concept of a jamming phase diagram for attractive colloidal particles, providing a unifying link between the glass transition, gelation and aggregation.