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Title: Two-dimensional colloidal systems : grain boundaries and confinement
Author: Skinner, Thomas Olof Edwin
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 5914
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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The behaviour of colloidal particles in two-dimensional (2D) systems is addressed in real space and time using magnetic fields, optical tweezers and optical video microscopy. First, the fluctuations of a grain boundary in a 2D colloidal crystal are analysed. A real space analogue of the capillary fluctuation method is derived and successfully employed to extract the key parameters that characterise the grain boundary. Good agreement is also found with a fluctuation-dissipation based method recently suggested in simulation. Following on from analysis of the interface fluctuations, the properties of the individual grain boundary particles are analysed to investigate the long standing hypothesis that suggests that grain boundary particle dynamics are similar to those in supercooled liquids. The grain boundary particle dynamics display cage breaking at long times, highly heterogeneous particle dynamics and the formation of cooperatively moving regions along the interface, all typical behaviour of a supercooled liquid. Next, the frustration induced by confining colloidal particles inside a pentagonal environment is investigated. The state of the system is adjusted via two separate control parameters: the inter-particle interaction potential and the number density. A gradual crystalline to confined liquid-like transition is observed as the repulsive inter-particle interaction potential is decreased. In contrast, re-entrant orientational ordering and dynamical effects result as the number density of the confined colloidal particles is increased. Finally, the dynamics of colloidal particles distributed amongst a random array of fixed obstacle particles is probed as a function of both the mobile particle and fixed obstacle particle number densities. Increasing the mobile and the obstacle particle number density drives the system towards a glass transition. The dynamics of the free particles are shown to behave in a similar way to the normal glass transition at low obstacle density and more analogous to a localisation glass transition at high obstacle density.
Supervisor: Dullens, Roel P. A. Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Physical & theoretical chemistry ; Structure of interfaces ; colloids ; soft matter ; grain boundaries ; glasses ; crystallisation ; optical tweezers ; optical microscopy