Structural signatures of dynamic heterogeneities in monolayers of colloidal ellipsoids

Nat Commun. 2014 May 8;5:3829. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4829.


When a liquid is supercooled towards the glass transition, its dynamics drastically slows down, whereas its static structure remains relatively unchanged. Finding a structural signature of the dynamic slowing down is a major challenge, yet it is often too subtle to be uncovered. Here we discover the structural signatures for both translational and rotational dynamics in monolayers of colloidal ellipsoids by video microscopy experiments and computer simulations. The correlation lengths of the dynamic slowest-moving clusters, the static glassy clusters, the static local structural entropy and the dynamic heterogeneity follow the same power-law divergence, suggesting that the kinetic slowing down is caused by a decrease in the structural entropy and an increase in the size of the glassy cluster. Ellipsoids with different aspect ratios exhibit single- or double-step glass transitions with distinct dynamic heterogeneities. These findings demonstrate that the particle shape anisotropy has important effects on the structure and dynamics of the glass.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't