My group studies colloidal suspensions, which are solid micron-sized particles in a liquid. We use an optical confocal microscope to view the motion of these colloidal particles in three dimensions. In some experiments, these particles arrange into a crystalline lattice, and thus the sample is analogous to a traditional solid. We study the interface between colloidal crystals and colloidal liquids, and find that this interface is quite sharply defined. In other experiments, the sample is analogous to a glass, with particles randomly packed together. The particles correspond to individual molecules in a traditional glass, and the sample exhibits glassy behavior when the particle concentration is high. This allows us to directly study the microscopic behavior responsible for the macroscopic viscosity divergence of glasses.
This is a weekly series of informal talks given primarily by members of the soft condensed matter and statistical mechanics groups, but is also open to members of other groups and external visitors. The aim of the series is to promote discussion and learning of various topics at a level suitable to the broad background of the group. Everyone is welcome to attend..