Issue 35, 2014

Crystallizing hard-sphere glasses by doping with active particles


Crystallization and vitrification are two different routes to form a solid. Normally these two processes suppress each other, with the glass transition preventing crystallization at high density (or low temperature). This is even true for systems of colloidal hard spheres, which are commonly used as building blocks for novel functional materials with potential applications, e.g. photonic crystals. By performing Brownian dynamics simulations of glassy systems consisting of mixtures of active and passive hard spheres, we show that the crystallization of such hard-sphere glasses can be dramatically promoted by doping the system with small amounts of active particles. Surprisingly, even hard-sphere glasses of packing fraction up to ϕ = 0.635 crystallize, which is around 0.5% below the random close packing at ϕ ≃ 0.64. Our results suggest a novel way of fabricating crystalline materials from (colloidal) glasses. This is particularly important for materials that get easily kinetically trapped in glassy states, and the crystal nucleation hardly occurs.

Graphical abstract: Crystallizing hard-sphere glasses by doping with active particles

Article information

Article type
09 May 2014
07 Jul 2014
First published
07 Jul 2014
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Soft Matter, 2014,10, 6609-6613

Author version available

Crystallizing hard-sphere glasses by doping with active particles

R. Ni, M. A. Cohen Stuart, M. Dijkstra and P. G. Bolhuis, Soft Matter, 2014, 10, 6609 DOI: 10.1039/C4SM01015A

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