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Phys Rev Lett. 2009 Dec 4;103(23):238303. Epub 2009 Dec 4.

Shape-induced dispersion of colloids in anisotropic fluids.

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Université de Bordeaux, Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal-CNRS, 115 Avenue Albert Schweitzer, Pessac, 33600, France.


We experimentally study the behavior of micrometer-sized prolate ellipsoidal particles dispersed in a nematic liquid crystal. The latter is an aqueous solution of rodlike micelles. When embedded into such a solvent, ellipsoids with small enough aspect ratios aggregate to form anisotropic structures oriented at an angle with respect to the local background director (as already observed for spheres). This is, however, no longer the case when the aspect ratio reaches a well-defined value: above that value, the ellipsoids remain well dispersed and apparently do no interact with each other, even over very long periods of time (several months). Therefore, there exists a transition from an aggregated to a nonaggregated state as a function of aspect ratio and for a given particle concentration. This behavior has not been predicted so far and we put forward simple calculations to rationalize our observations.

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