Fluids of clusters in attractive colloids

Phys Rev Lett. 2006 Jan 20;96(2):028306. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.96.028306. Epub 2006 Jan 18.


We show that colloidal particles with attractive interactions induced by a nonadsorbing polymer exhibit a stable phase consisting of a fluid of clusters of particles. This phase persists even in the absence of any long-range repulsion due to charge, contrary to expectations based on simulation and theory. Cluster morphology depends strongly on the range of the interparticle attraction: With a shorter range, clusters are tenuous and branched; with a longer range, they are more compact.