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Issue 2, 2015
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On polydispersity and the hard sphere glass transition

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We investigate the dynamics of polydisperse hard spheres at high packing fractions ϕ. We use extensive numerical simulations based on an experimentally-realistic particle size distribution (PSD) and compare to commonly-used PSDs such as Gaussian or top hat distribution. We find that the mode of kinetic arrest depends on the PSD's shape and not only on its variance. For the experimentally-realistic PSD we find ageing dynamics even though the density correlators decay fully to zero for ϕ ≥ 0.59. We observe substantial decoupling of the dynamics of the smallest and largest particles. While the smallest particles remain diffusive in all our simulations, a power-law describes the largest-particle diffusion, suggesting an ideal arrest at ϕc ∼ 0.588. The latter is however averted just before ϕc, due to the presence of the mobile smallest particles. In addition, we identify that a partial aging mechanism is at work, whose effects are most pronounced for the largest particles. By comparing our results with recent experimental observations of ergodic behavior up to ϕ ∼ 0.6 in a hard-sphere system, we argue that this is an effect of polydispersity, which smears out the glass transition.

Graphical abstract: On polydispersity and the hard sphere glass transition

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Publication details

The article was received on 22 Oct 2014, accepted on 12 Nov 2014 and first published on 12 Nov 2014

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4SM02321H
Soft Matter, 2015,11, 324-330

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    On polydispersity and the hard sphere glass transition

    E. Zaccarelli, S. M. Liddle and W. C. K. Poon, Soft Matter, 2015, 11, 324
    DOI: 10.1039/C4SM02321H

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