The influence of confinement on the structure of colloidal systems with competing interactions

Horacio Serna, Eva G. Noya and  Wojciech T. Góźdź​

Soft Matter (2020)16, 718 


Colloidal systems with competing interactions have a complex phase diagram with several periodic microphases, in which particles are arranged in lamellae, cylinders or clusters. Using grand canonical Monte Carlo simulations, we investigate how the structure of the colloidal fluid can be modified by confinement in channels with different cross-section geometries and sizes. We pay particular attention to the hexagonal cylindrical phase since it is the most susceptible to form new structures from. In particular, we considered pores with elliptical, triangular, squared, hexagonal, and wedged-cylindrical cross-sections. Our results show that the structure of the confined fluid depends on the commensurability of the bulk periodic structure with the confining cross-section of the channel. We also find that the structure of the confined fluid can be modified by inserting wedges of appropriate geometry and size. These geometrical modifications of the confining pores can be exploited for the controlled assembly of colloidal structures.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 711859.