Glassy dynamics of sticky hard spheres beyond the mode-coupling regime
Sticky hard spheres, i.e., hard particles decorated with a short-ranged attractive interaction potential, constitute a relatively simple model with highly non-trivial glassy dynamics. The mode-coupling theory of the glass transition (MCT) offers a qualitative account of the complex reentrant dynamics of sticky hard spheres, but the predicted glass transition point is notoriously underestimated. Here we apply an improved first-principles-based theory, referred to as generalized mode-coupling theory (GMCT), to sticky hard spheres. This theoretical framework seeks to go beyond MCT by hierarchically expanding the dynamics in higher-order density correlation functions. We predict the phase diagrams from the first few levels of the GMCT hierarchy and the dynamics-related critical exponents, all of which are much closer to the empirical observations than MCT. Notably, the prominent reentrant glassy dynamics, the glass–glass transition, and the higher-order bifurcation singularity classes (A3 and A4) of sticky hard spheres are found to be preserved within GMCT at arbitrary order. Moreover, we demonstrate that when the hierarchical order of GMCT increases, the effect of the short-ranged attractive interactions becomes more evident in the dynamics. This implies that GMCT is more sensitive to subtle microstructural differences than MCT, and that the framework provides a promising first-principles approach to systematically go beyond the MCT regime.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2021 Soft Matter Emerging Investigators