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Langmuir. 2013 Feb 5;29(5):1379-87. doi: 10.1021/la3044768. Epub 2013 Jan 25.

Structure and dynamics studies of concentrated micrometer-sized colloidal suspensions.

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Material Measurement Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 100 Bureau Drive, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899, United States.


We present an experimental study of the structural and dynamical properties of concentrated suspensions of different sized polystyrene microspheres dispersed in glycerol for volume fraction concentrations between 10% and 20%. The static structure, probed with ultrasmall-angle X-ray scattering, shows a behavior very similar to that of hard spheres. The equilibrium dynamics is probed with ultrasmall-angle X-ray scattering-X-ray photon correlation spectroscopy, a new technique that overcomes the limits of visible light-scattering techniques imposed by multiple scattering and is suitable for studies of optically opaque materials containing micrometer-sized structures. We found that the intensity autocorrelation functions are better described by a stretched exponential function and microspheres in a concentrated suspension move collectively. We also found that the inverse of the effective diffusion coefficients displays a peak with respect to the scattering vector that resembles the peaks in the static structure factors, which indicates that a long-lived, low free-energy state exists. The relaxation time is approximately inversely related to scattering vector, a behavior consistent with models that describe the dynamics in terms of random, local structural arrangements in disordered media.

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