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Sol-gel transitions and liquid crystal phase transitions in concentrated aqueous suspensions of colloidal gibbsite platelets

By M.C.D. Mourad, D.V. Byelov, A.V. Petukhov, D.A.M. de Winter, A.J. Verkleij and H.N.W. Lekkerkerker


In this paper, we present a comprehensive study of the sol-gel transitions and liquid crystal phase transitions in aqueous suspensions of positively charged colloidal gibbsite platelets at pH 4-5 over a wide range of particle concentrations (50-600 g/L) and salt concentrations (10-4-10-1 M NaCl). A detailed sol-gel diagram was established by oscillatory rheological experiments. These demonstrate the presence of kinetically arrested states both at high and at low salt concentrations, enclosing a sol region. Birefringence and iridescence show that in the sol state nematic and hexagonal columnar liquid crystal phases are formed. The gel and liquid crystal structures are studied in further detail using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and cryo-focused ion beam/scanning electron microscopy (cryo-FIB-SEM). The gel formed at high salt concentration shows signatures of a sponge-like structure and does not display birefringence. In the sol region, by lowering the salt concentration and/or increasing the gibbsite concentration, the nematic phase gradually transforms from the discotic nematic (ND) into the columnar nematic (NC) with much stronger side-to-side interparticle correlations. Subsequently, this NC structure can be either transformed into the hexagonal columnar phase or arrested into a birefringent repulsive gel state with NC structure

Topics: Molecular biology, Life sciences, Cell biology, Biologie/Milieukunde (BIOL), International (English)
Year: 2009
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