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Issue 1, 2013
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In search of colloidal hard spheres

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We recently reviewed the experimental determination of the volume fraction, ϕ, of hard-sphere colloids, and concluded that the absolute value of ϕ was unlikely to be known to better than ±3–6%. Here, in a second part to that review, we survey effects due to softness in the interparticle potential, which necessitates the use of an effective volume fraction. We review current experimental systems, and conclude that the one that most closely approximates hard spheres remains polymethylmethacrylate spheres sterically stabilised by polyhydroxystearic acid ‘hairs’. For these particles their effective hard sphere diameter is around 1–10% larger than the core diameter, depending on the particle size. We argue that for larger colloids suitable for confocal microscopy, the effect of electrostatic charge cannot be neglected, so that mapping to hard spheres must be treated with caution.

Graphical abstract: In search of colloidal hard spheres

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The article was received on 30 May 2012, accepted on 20 Sep 2012 and first published on 09 Oct 2012

Article type: Review Article
DOI: 10.1039/C2SM26245B
Citation: Soft Matter, 2013,9, 17-27

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    In search of colloidal hard spheres

    C. P. Royall, W. C. K. Poon and E. R. Weeks, Soft Matter, 2013, 9, 17
    DOI: 10.1039/C2SM26245B

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