The Free Energy Landscape of Hard Sphere Clusters
Entry by Leon Furchtgott, APP 225 Fall 2010.
The Free-Energy Landscape of Clusters of Attractive Hard Spheres. Meng, G., Arkus, N., Brenner, M. P., & Manoharan, V. N. (2010). Science, 327, 560-563
The paper is interested in the behavior of small (10 or fewer colloidal particles) clusters and their relation to bulk behavior. In particular, the paper discusses the thermodynamics of small clusters: what structures are favored by entropy or by the potential energy, how this competition changes as N grows larger. Through careful experimentation the authors succeed in measuring structures and free energies of small equilibrium clusters. They compare these structures to theoretical predictions and draw conclusions regarding highly favored configurations.
Small numbers of polystyrene (PS) microspheres were placed in cylindrical microwells filled with polyNIPAM nanoparticles (Fig 1A). The microwells have depth and diameter 30 <math>\mu</math>m.