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A Geometrical Approach to Colloidal Energy Landscapes and Kinetics

Speaker: Miranda Holmes-Cerfon, New York University
Series: CBE Departmental Seminars
Location: Elgin Room (E-Quad A224)
Date/Time: Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Particles in soft-matter systems (such as colloids) tend to have very short-range interactions, so traditional theories, that assume the energy landscape is smooth enough, will struggle to describe their energy landscapes and dynamics. We propose a new framework to look at such particles, based on taking the limit as the range of the interaction goes to zero. In this limit, the energy landscape is a set of geometrical manifolds plus a single control parameter, while the dynamics on top of the manifolds are given by a hierarchy of Fokker-Planck equations coupled by “sticky” boundary conditions. We show how to compute dynamical quantities such as transition rates between clusters of hard spheres, show this agrees quantitatively with experiments on colloids, and show that within this framework the interaction potential is easily measured from macroscopic observations. This framework is naturally suited to investigate the landscape and kinetics of particles with specific, designed interactions, so if time permits we comment on applications to questions of self-assembly.