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Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2004 May;69(5 Pt 1):051702. Epub 2004 May 14.

Isotropic-nematic phase transition in suspensions of filamentous virus and the neutral polymer Dextran.

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Complex Fluids Group, Physics Department, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02454, USA.


We present an experimental study of the isotropic-nematic phase transition in an aqueous mixture of charged semiflexible rods ( fd virus) and neutral polymer (Dextran). A complete phase diagram is measured as a function of ionic strength and polymer molecular weight. At high ionic strength we find that adding polymer widens the isotropic-nematic coexistence region with polymers preferentially partitioning into the isotropic phase, while at low ionic strength the added polymer has no effect on the phase transition. The nematic order parameter is determined from birefringence measurements and is found to be independent of polymer concentration (or equivalently the strength of attraction). The experimental results are compared with the existing theoretical predictions for the isotropic-nematic transition in rods with attractive interactions.


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