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Phys Rev Lett. 2005 Apr 8;94(13):138303. Epub 2005 Apr 8.

Phase diagram of dipolar hard and soft spheres: manipulation of colloidal crystal structures by an external field.

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  • 1Soft Condensed Matter, Debye Institute, Utrecht University, Princetonplein 5, 3584 CC Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Phase diagrams of hard and soft spheres with a fixed dipole moment are determined by calculating the Helmholtz free energy using simulations. The pair potential is given by a dipole-dipole interaction plus a hard-core and a repulsive Yukawa potential for soft spheres. Our system models colloids in an external electric or magnetic field, with hard spheres corresponding to uncharged and soft spheres to charged colloids. The phase diagram of dipolar hard spheres shows fluid, face-centered-cubic (fcc), hexagonal-close-packed (hcp), and body-centered-tetragonal (bct) phases. The phase diagram of dipolar soft spheres exhibits, in addition to the above mentioned phases, a body-centered-orthorhombic (bco) phase, and it agrees well with the experimental phase diagram [Nature (London) 421, 513 (2003)]. Our results show that bulk hcp, bct, and bco crystals can be realized experimentally by applying an external field.

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