Strong effect of weak charging in suspensions of anisotropic colloids
Suspensions of hard colloidal particles frequently serve as model systems in studies on fundamental aspects of phase transitions. But often colloidal particles that are considered as “hard” are in fact weakly charged. If the colloids are spherical, weak charging has only a weak effect on the structural properties of the suspension, which can be easily corrected for. However, this does not hold for anisotropic particles. We introduce a model for the interaction potential between charged ellipsoids of revolution (spheroids) based on the Derjaguin approximation of Debye–Hückel theory and present a computer simulation study on aspects of the system's structural properties and phase behaviour. In line with previous experimental observations, we find that even a weak surface charge has a strong impact on the correlation functions. A likewise strong impact is seen on the phase behaviour, in particular, we find stable cubatic order in suspensions of oblate ellipsoids.