Orientational order in a glass of charged platelets with a concentration gradient
Colloidal dispersions of anisometric particles can display dynamical arrest and ordering involving both translational and rotational degrees of freedom. We show that orientational order can develop in glassy colloidal dispersions of charged platelets when a concentration gradient is imposed through solvent evaporation. Our model system of Laponite (LRD) platelets in deionized water has been extensively studied for its ergodic to non-ergodic transitions, and the existence of an underlying isotropic–nematic phase transition has been a subject of debate. We use small-angle X-ray scattering, dynamical light scattering and birefringence to show that the orientational order we observe does not result from an underlying, uniquely determined equilibrium state with orientational order, but from plastic deformation of the colloidal glass.