Depletion-driven four-phase coexistences in discotic systems

Álvaro González García, Remco Tuinier*, Jasper V. Maring, Joeri Opdam, Henricus H. Wensink, Henk N.W. Lekkerkerker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Free volume theory (FVT) is a versatile and tractable framework to predict the phase behaviour of mixtures of platelets and non-adsorbing polymer chains in a common solvent. Within FVT, three principal reference phases for the hard platelets are considered: isotropic (I), nematic (N) and columnar (C). We derive analytical expressions that enable us to systematically trace the different types of phase coexistences revealed upon adding depletants and confirm the predictive power of FVT by testing the calculated diagrams against phase stability scenarios from computer simulation. A wide range of multi-phase equilibria is revealed, involving two-phase isostructural transitions of all phase symmetries (INC) considered as well as the possible three-phase coexistences. Moreover, we identify the system parameters, relative disk shapes and colloid–polymer size ratios, at which four-phase equilibria are expected. These involve a remarkable coexistence of all three-phase states commonly encountered in discotics including isostructural coexistences I1–I2–N–C, I–N1–N2–C and I–N–C1–C2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2757-2772
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular Physics
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2018


  • colloid–polymer mixtures
  • depletion
  • Discotic
  • multi-phase equilibria
  • phase behaviour


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