Observation of soft glassy behavior in a magnetic colloid exposed to an external magnetic field

S Vinod and PJ Camp and J Philip, SOFT MATTER, 16, 7126-7136 (2020).

DOI: 10.1039/d0sm00830c

We provide the first experimental evidence for soft glassy behavior in a sterically stabilized magnetic colloid (ferrofluid) of relatively low volume fraction (phi= 0.037) when a uniform magnetic field is applied at a sufficiently high rate (fast quench). Fast magnetic-field quenches favor structural arrest of field-induced aggregates, owing to insufficient time to settle into lower energy states, thereby pushing the system to a frustrated metastable configuration like a repulsive glass. Brownian dynamics simulations are used to show that the polydisperse ferrofluid (as in experiments) forms thick ropes aligned along the field direction, while a monodisperse ferrofluid does not. The simulations show that there is practically no ordering of the thin, monodisperse chains, while the thick, polydisperse ropes show positional ordering with a typical center-center separation between the particles in different ropes of about 0.39 mu m. As a consequence of structural arrest, the ferrofluid exhibits aging with broken time-translational invariance, a hallmark of glassy dynamics. The superposition of strain and creep compliance curves obtained from rheological measurements at different waiting times in the effective time domain corroborates the soft glassy behavior when exposed to a magnetic field applied at a fast ramp rate.

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