Size and boundary effects on the diffusive behavior of elongated colloidal particles in a strongly confined dense dispersion

S Naderi and P van der Schoot, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 139, 134909 (2013).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4823736

In very recent experimental work, diffusive motion of individual particles in a dense columnar phase of colloidal suspension of filamentous virus particles probed by means of fluorescence video microscopy S. Naderi, E. Pouget, P. Ballesta, P. van der Schoot, M. P. Lettinga, and E. Grelet, Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 037801 (2013). Rare events were observed in which the minority fluorescently labeled particles engage in sudden, jump-like motion along the director. The jump length distribution turned out to be biased towards a half and a full particle length. We suggest these events may be indicative of two types of particle motion, one in which particles overtake other particles in the same column and the other where a column re- equilibrates after a particle leaves a column either to enter into another column or into a void defect on the lattice. Our Brownian dynamics simulations of a quasi one-dimensional system of semi-flexible particles, subject to a Gaussian confinement potentials mimicking the effects of the self-consistent molecular field in the columnar phase, support this idea. We find that the frequency of overtaking depends on the linear fraction of particles and the steepness of the confining potential. The re-equilibration time of a column after a particle is removed from it is much shorter than the self-diffusion timescale. For the case of large system sizes and periodic boundary conditions, overtaking events do not present themselves as full-length jumps. Only if the boundary conditions are reflecting and the system is sufficiently small, full length jumps are observed in particle trajectories. The reason is that only then the amplitude of the background fluctuations is smaller than a particle length. Increasing the bending flexibility of the particles on the one hand enhances the ability of particles to overtake each other but on the other it enhances fluctuations that wash out full jumps in particle trajectories. (C) 2013 AIP Publishing LLC.

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