Phase diagrams of mixtures of dipolar rods and discs†
Self-assembly of binary mixtures that contain anisotropic, interacting colloidal particles have been proposed as a way to create new, multi-functional materials. We simulate binary mixtures of dipolar rods and dipolar discs in two-dimensions using discontinuous molecular dynamics to determine how the assembled structures of these mixtures differ from those seen in single component systems. Two different binary mixtures are investigated: a mixture of an equal number of dipolar rods and dipolar discs (“equal number”), and a mixture where the area fraction of dipolar rods is equal to the area fraction of dipolar discs (“equal area”). Phase boundaries between fluid, string-fluid, and “gel” phases are calculated and compared to the phase boundaries of the pure components. Looking deeper at the underlying structure of the mixture reveals a complex interplay between the rods and discs and the formation of states where the two components are in different phases. The mixtures exhibit phases where both rods and discs are in the fluid phase, where rods form a string-fluid while discs remain in the fluid phase, a rod string-fluid coexisting with a disc string-fluid, a “gel” that consists primarily of rods while the discs form either a fluid or string-fluid phase, and a “gel” that contains both rods and discs. Our results give insight into the general assembly pathway of binary mixtures, and how complex aggregates can be created by varying the mixture composition, strength of interaction between the two components, and the temperature. By manipulating the properties of one of the components it should be possible to fabricate bifunctional, thermally responsive self-assembled materials.