On polydispersity and the hard sphere glass transition
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.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Soft Matter Lectureship Winners