We use Monte Carlo simulation and the Reference Interaction Site Model (RISM) theory of molecular fluids to investigate a simple model of colloidal mixture consisting of dimers, made up of two tangent hard monomers of different size, and hard spheres. In addition to steric repulsion, the two species interact via a square-well attraction only between small monomers and spheres. Recently, we have characterized the low-temperature regime of this mixture by Monte Carlo, reporting on the spontaneous formation of a wide spectrum of supramolecular aggregates [Prestipino et al., J. Phys. Chem. B, 2019, 123, 9272]. Here we focus on a regime of temperatures where, on cooling, the appearance of local inhomogeneties first, and the early stages of aggregation thereafter, are observed. In particular, we find signatures of aggregation in the onset of a low-wavevector peak in the structure factors of the mixture, as computed by both theory and simulation. Then, we link the structural information to the microscopic arrangement through a detailed cluster analysis of Monte Carlo configurations. In this regard, we devise a novel method to compute the maximum distance for which two spheres can be regarded as bonded together, a crucial issue in the proper identification of fluid aggregates. The RISM theory provides relatively accurate structural and thermodynamic predictions in comparison with Monte Carlo, but with slightly degrading performances as the fluid progresses inside the locally inhomogeneous phase. Our study certifies the efficacy of the RISM approach as a useful complement to numerical simulation for a reasoned analysis of aggregation properties in colloidal mixtures.

Early stages of aggregation in fluid mixtures of dimers and spheres: a theoretical and simulation study

Munao', G
Primo
;
Prestipino, S
Secondo
;
Costa, D
Ultimo
2021

Abstract

We use Monte Carlo simulation and the Reference Interaction Site Model (RISM) theory of molecular fluids to investigate a simple model of colloidal mixture consisting of dimers, made up of two tangent hard monomers of different size, and hard spheres. In addition to steric repulsion, the two species interact via a square-well attraction only between small monomers and spheres. Recently, we have characterized the low-temperature regime of this mixture by Monte Carlo, reporting on the spontaneous formation of a wide spectrum of supramolecular aggregates [Prestipino et al., J. Phys. Chem. B, 2019, 123, 9272]. Here we focus on a regime of temperatures where, on cooling, the appearance of local inhomogeneties first, and the early stages of aggregation thereafter, are observed. In particular, we find signatures of aggregation in the onset of a low-wavevector peak in the structure factors of the mixture, as computed by both theory and simulation. Then, we link the structural information to the microscopic arrangement through a detailed cluster analysis of Monte Carlo configurations. In this regard, we devise a novel method to compute the maximum distance for which two spheres can be regarded as bonded together, a crucial issue in the proper identification of fluid aggregates. The RISM theory provides relatively accurate structural and thermodynamic predictions in comparison with Monte Carlo, but with slightly degrading performances as the fluid progresses inside the locally inhomogeneous phase. Our study certifies the efficacy of the RISM approach as a useful complement to numerical simulation for a reasoned analysis of aggregation properties in colloidal mixtures.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11570/3212034
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