Nature of an Electric-Field-Induced Colloidal Martensitic Transition

Yethiraj, Anand and Wouterse, Alan and Groh, Benito and van Blaaderen, Alfons (2004) Nature of an Electric-Field-Induced Colloidal Martensitic Transition. Physical Review Letters, 92 (5). ISSN 1079-7114

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We study the properties of a solid-solid close-packed to body-centered tetragonal transition in a colloidal suspension via fluorescence confocal laser scanning microscopy, in three dimensions and in real space. This structural transformation is driven by a subtle competition between gravitational and electric dipolar field energy, the latter being systematically varied via an external electric field. The transition threshold depends on the local depth in the colloidal sediment. Structures with order intermediate between close-packed and body-centered tetragonal were observed, with these intermediate structures also being stable and long lived. This is essentially a colloidal analogue of an ‘‘atomiclevel’’ interfacial structure. We find qualitative agreement with theory (based purely on energetics). Quantitative differences can be attributed to the importance of entropic effects.

Item Type: Article
Item ID: 8060
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Physics and Physical Oceanography
Date: 3 February 2004
Date Type: Publication
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