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On measuring colloidal volume fractions

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Hard-sphere colloids are popular as models for testing fundamental theories in condensed matter and statistical physics, from crystal nucleation to the glass transition. A single parameter, the volume fraction (ϕ), characterizes an ideal, monodisperse hard-sphere suspension. In comparing experiments with theories and simulation, researchers to date have paid little attention to likely uncertainties in experimentally-quoted ϕ values. We critically review the experimental measurement of ϕ in hard-sphere colloids, and show that while statistical uncertainties in comparing relative values of ϕ can be as low as 10−4, systematic errors of ≳3% are probably unavoidable. The consequences of this are illustrated by way of a case study comparing literature data sets on hard-sphere viscosity and diffusion.

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Article information

09 Jun 2011
06 Sep 2011
First published
05 Oct 2011

Soft Matter, 2012,8, 21-30
Article type
Review Article

On measuring colloidal volume fractions

W. C. K. Poon, E. R. Weeks and C. P. Royall, Soft Matter, 2012, 8, 21
DOI: 10.1039/C1SM06083J

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