H.N.W. Lekkerkerker

Utrecht University, Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands

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Publications (230)762.34 Total impact

  • Louise Bailey, Henk N.W. Lekkerkerker, Geoffrey C Maitland
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    ABSTRACT: Smectite clay minerals and their suspensions have long been of both great scientific and applications interest and continue to display a remarkable range of new and interesting behaviour. Recently there has been an increasing interest in the properties of mixed suspensions of such clays with nanoparticles of different size, shape and charge. This review aims to summarize the current status of research in this area focusing on phase behaviour and rheological properties. We will emphasize the rich range of data that has emerged for these systems and the challenges they present for future investigations The review starts with a brief overview of the behaviour and current understanding of pure smectite clays and their suspensions. We then cover the work on smectite clay-inorganic nanoparticle mixed suspensions according to the shape and charge of the nanoparticles – spheres, rods and plates either positively or negatively charged. We conclude with a summary of the overarching trends that emerge from these studies and indicate where gaps in our understanding need further research for better understanding the underlying chemistry and physics.
    Soft Matter 11/2014; · 4.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this article we present a study of the structure and rheology of mixed suspensions of Montmorillonite clay platelets and Ludox TMA silica spheres at pH 5, 7 and 9. Using cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) we probe the changes in the structure of the montmorillonite suspensions induced by changing the pH and by adding silica particles. Using oscillatory and transient rheological measurements we examine the changes in storage modulus and yield stress of the montmorillonite suspensions upon changing the pH and adding silica particles. Cryo-TEM images reveal that changes in pH have a significant effect on the structure of the suspensions, which can be related to the change in charge of the edges from positive at pH 5 to negative at higher pH. Furthermore, at pH 7, the cryo-TEM images show indications of a micro phase separation between clay and silica particles. The addition of silica leads to lowering of the storage modulus and yield stress, which we connect to the structural changes of the suspension.
    The journal of physical chemistry. B. 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: In this article we present a study of the liquid crystal phase behaviour of mixed suspensions of the natural smectite clay mineral beidellite and non-adsorbing colloidal silica particles. While virtually all smectite clays dispersed in water form gels at very low concentrations, beidellite displays a first order isotropic-nematic phase transition before gel formation (E. Paineau et al. J. Phys. Chem. B, 2009, 113, 15858-15869). The addition of silica nanospheres shifts the concentrations of the coexisting isotropic and nematic phases to slightly higher values while at the same time markedly accelerating the phase separation process. Furthermore beidellite suspensions at volume fractions above the isotropic-nematic phase separation, trapped in a kinetically arrested gel state, liquefy on the addition of silica nanospheres and proceed to isotropic-nematic phase separation. Using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), we probe the structural changes caused by the addition of the silica nanospheres and we relate the modification of the phase transition kinetics to the change of the rheological properties.
    The Journal of Physical Chemistry B 04/2014; · 3.61 Impact Factor
  • H N W Lekkerkerker, G J Vroege
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    ABSTRACT: A review is given of the field of mineral colloidal liquid crystals: liquid crystal phases formed by individual mineral particles within colloidal suspensions. Starting from their discovery in the 1920s, we discuss developments on the levels of both fundamentals and applications. We conclude by highlighting some promising results from recent years, which may point the way towards future developments.
    Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences 04/2013; 371(1988):20120263. · 2.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This mini-review discusses the influence of external fields on the phase behaviour of lyotropic colloidal liquid crystals. The liquid crystal phases reviewed, formed in suspensions of highly anisotropic particles ranging from rod-to board-to plate-like particles, include ne-matic, smectic and columnar phases. The external fields considered are the earth gravitational field and electric and magnetic fields. For elec-tric and magnetic fields single particle alignment, collective reorienta-tion behaviour of ordered phases and field-induced liquid crystal phase transitions are discussed. Additionally, liquid crystal phase behaviour in various confining geometries, e.g. slit-pore, circular and spherical confinement will be reviewed.
    The European Physical Journal Special Topics 01/2013; 222(11):3053-3069. · 1.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a study on the macroscopic, microscopic, and rheological behavior of mixtures of natural hectorite clay and different types of anionic Ludox silica spheres. Adding silica spheres to the weak hectorite gels leads the collapse of the suspensions, while the strong gels remain space-filling, though their storage modulus and the yield stress values diminish. We discuss what kind of structural rearrangements are possibly responsible for the macroscopic and rheological changes in the clay/silica mixtures.
    The Journal of Physical Chemistry B 07/2012; 116(31):9532-9. · 3.61 Impact Factor
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    A. A. Verhoeff, H. N. W. Lekkerkerker
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    ABSTRACT: While the columnar liquid crystalline phase in suspensions of plate-like colloids is by now well-established, little is known about the pathway leading to the formation of this highly ordered, self-assembled structure. Here, we present direct observations of the morphology and structure of micrometer-sized droplets of the columnar phase formed in the nematic phase in suspensions of colloidal gibbsite plates. From polarized light microscopy and optical Bragg reflection measurements we deduce that these droplets consist of stacks of platelets in a hexagonal arrangement, forming a disk-shaped droplet. We discuss the relation of this droplet structure to the nucleation pathway of the columnar phase and to the anisotropic nematic–columnar interfacial tension.
    Soft Matter 04/2012; 8(18):4865-4868. · 4.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Here, we present the first observation of a smectic B (Sm(B)) phase in a system of charged colloidal gibbsite platelets suspended in dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). The use of DMSO, a polar aprotic solvent, leads to a long range of the electrostatic Coulomb repulsion between platelets. We believe this to be responsible for the formation of the layered liquid crystalline phase consisting of hexagonally ordered particles, that is, the Sm(B) phase. We support our finding by high-resolution X-ray scattering experiments, which additionally indicate a high degree of ordering in the Sm(B) phase.
    Journal of the American Chemical Society 03/2012; 134(13):5985-90. · 10.68 Impact Factor
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    A A Verhoeff, H N W Lekkerkerker
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    ABSTRACT: We studied the snap-off of nematic liquid crystalline droplets originating from the Rayleigh–Taylor instability at the isotropic–nematic interface in suspensions of charged gibbsite in water and sterically stabilized gibbsite in bromotoluene. We found that droplet snap-off strongly depends on the director field structure inside the thinning neck, which is determined by the ratio of the splay elastic constant and the anchoring strength of the nematic phase to the droplet interface relative to the thickness of the thinning neck. If anchoring is weak, which is the case for aqueous gibbsite, this ratio is comparable to the thickness of the breaking thread. As a result, the thinning neck and pending drop have a uniform director field and droplet snap-off is determined by the viscous properties of the liquid crystal as well as by thermal fluctuations of the interface. On the other hand, in sterically stabilized gibbsite where anchoring is strong, this ratio is significantly smaller than the neck thickness. In this case, the neck has an escaped radial director field and the neck thinning is retarded close to snap-off due to a topological energy barrier involved in the separation of the droplet from the thread.
    New Journal of Physics 02/2012; 14(2):023010. · 4.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present an experimental study on mixtures of the gibbsite platelets and silica nanospheres of the same charge sign. In these mixtures the spheres act as depletants changing the phase behaviour of the platelet system, for which two very different time scales can be distinguished. At short times as a result of a strong depletion attraction in the system a kinetically arrested phase was split off. Subsequently, on a time scale of months the top phase separated in an isotropic and a columnar phase on top of the arrested phase. We rationalize this gravity induced liquid crystal formation in terms of a platelet sedimentation and a strong depletion attraction. The sedimentation driven columnar phase is highly ordered as we show by microradian X-ray diffraction experiments
    Soft Matter 12/2011; 8(1). · 4.15 Impact Factor
  • Remco Tuinier, Henk N.W. Lekkerkerker
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    ABSTRACT: In this chapter we consider the depletion interaction between two flat plates and between two spherical colloidal particles for different depletants (polymers, small colloidal spheres, rods and plates). First of all we focus on the depletion interaction due to a somewhat hypothetical model depletant, the penetrable hard sphere (phs), to mimic a (ideal) polymer molecule.
    05/2011: pages 57-108;
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    ABSTRACT: We present small angle x-ray scattering data of single-domain nematic and columnar liquid crystal phases in suspensions of sterically stabilized gibbsite platelets. The measurements are performed with different sample orientations to obtain information about the three-dimensional structure of the liquid crystalline phases. With the x-ray beam incident along the director of the nematic phase a strong correlation peak is observed corresponding to the side-to-side interparticle correlations, which suggests a columnar nematic structure. Upon sample rotation this side-to-side correlation peak of the nematic shifts to higher Q-values, suggesting the presence of strong fluctuations of small stacks of particles with different orientations, while the overall particle orientation is constant. In the hexagonal columnar phase, clear Bragg intercolumnar reflections are observed. Upon rotation, the Q-value of these reflections remains constant while their intensity monotonically decreases upon rotation. This indicates that the column orientation fluctuates together with the particle director in the columnar phase. This difference between the behaviour of the columnar and the nematic reflections upon sample rotation is used to assign the liquid crystal phase of a suspension consisting of larger platelets, where identification can be ambiguous due to resolution limitations.
    Journal of Physics Condensed Matter 05/2011; 23(19):194110. · 2.22 Impact Factor
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    A.A. Verhoeff, R.P. Brand, H.N.W. Lekkerkerker
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    ABSTRACT: We consider the birefringence patterns of nematic liquid crystals of gibbsite platelets at interfaces and in an aligning magnetic field. In solvents with a refractive index close to the particle refractive index, the intrinsic birefringence of the platelets dominates, resulting in positive birefringence, while if the solvent has a considerably different refractive index, birefringence due to the anisometric particle shape wins over the intrinsic birefringence, resulting in negative birefringence. The inversion of the birefringence leads to fascinating birefringent patterns.
    Molecular Physics 04/2011; 109(Nos. 7–10):1363-1371. · 1.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present an experimental study on the attractive glass formation in mixtures of colloidal gibbsite platelets and silica spheres. The platelets are 233 nm in diameter, and the diameter ratio between the platelets and the spheres is 13.8. The glass formation is induced by the short-ranged depletion attraction caused by the spheres. At sufficiently high sphere concentrations the depletion attraction is strong enough that the mixtures do not form the equilibrium liquid-crystalline phases, but the glass formation occurs instead. Using microradian X-ray diffraction measurements we provide detailed information about the structure of the arrested glass state. In mixtures with weaker depletion it consists of liquid-crystalline pockets embedded in the less ordered glassy surrounding. With a stronger attraction in the system the size of these domains decreases, until the structure of the attractive glass becomes completely disordered and isotropic.
    Soft Matter 03/2011; 7(6). · 4.15 Impact Factor
  • Willem K Kegel, Henk N W Lekkerkerker
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    ABSTRACT: Empty liquids and equilibrium gels have so far been only theoretical possibilities, predicted for colloids with patchy interactions. But evidence of both has now been found in Laponite, a widely studied clay.
    Nature Material 01/2011; 10(1):5-6. · 35.75 Impact Factor
  • W. K. Kegel, H. N. W. Lekkerkerker
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    ABSTRACT: Empty liquids and equilibrium gels have so far been only theoretical possibilities, predicted for colloids with patchy interactions. But evidence of both has now been found in Laponite, a widely studied clay.
    Nature Materials - NAT MATER. 01/2011;
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    ABSTRACT: We studied, by means of polarized light microscopy, the shape and director field of nematic tactoids as a function of their size in dispersions of colloidal gibbsite platelets in polar and apolar solvents. Because of the homeotropic anchoring of the platelets to the interface, we found large tactoids to be spherical with a radial director field, whereas small tactoids turn out to have an oblate shape and a homogeneous director field, in accordance with theoretical predictions. The transition from a radial to a homogeneous director field seems to proceed via two different routes depending in our case on the solvent. In one route, the what presumably is a hedgehog point defect in the center of the tactoid transforms into a ring defect with a radius that presumably goes to infinity with decreasing drop size. In the other route, the hedgehog defect is displaced from the center to the edge of the tactoid, where it becomes virtual again going to infinity with decreasing drop size. Furthermore, quantitative analysis of the tactoid properties provides us with useful information on the ratio of the splay elastic constant and the anchoring strength and the ratio of the anchoring strength and the surface tension.
    Langmuir 01/2011; 27(1):116-25. · 4.38 Impact Factor
  • Henk N. W. Lekkerkerker, Remco Tuinier
    Lecture Notes in Physics 01/2011;
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate the effect of a magnetic field on the shape and director field of nematic droplets in dispersions of sterically stabilized and charge-stabilized colloidal gibbsite platelets with a negative diamagnetic anisotropy. Depending on the magnetic field strength and tactoid size, we observe with polarized light microscopy several interesting structures, with different shapes and director fields both with and without defects. In particular, our findings provide the first experimental evidence for the existence of the split-core defect structure predicted ten years ago by Mkaddem and Gartland [Phys. Rev. E 62, 6694 (2000)]. The split-core structure is a metastable director-field configuration that can be stabilized by a sufficiently strong externally applied magnetic field but only if the diamagnetic anisotropy of the particles is negative. To account for our observations, we present a calculation of the stability regions of different shapes and director-field structures as a function of tactoid size, anchoring conditions, surface tension, elastic constants, and magnetic field strength. By fitting the experimental data to the theoretically predicted structures, we are able to extract values for the splay elastic constant, interfacial tension, and anchoring strength. Remarkably, we find significant differences between the two systems studied: for sterically stabilized gibbsite in bromotoluene the anchoring strength is one order of magnitude larger than that of aqueous gibbsite, with the latter exhibiting weak and the former strong anchoring of the director field to the interface. The splay elastic constants that we obtain are in agreement with earlier experiments, simulations, and theory, while the interfacial tension and anchoring strength are considerably larger than what was found in earlier experiments.
    The Journal of Chemical Physics 01/2011; 134(4):044904. · 3.12 Impact Factor
  • Henk Lekkerkerker, Remco Tuinier
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    ABSTRACT: In this chapter we discuss the basics of the phase behaviour of hard spheres plus depletants. Phase transitions are the result of physical properties of a collection of particles depending on many-body interactions. In Chap. 2 we focused on two-body interactions. As we shall see, depletion effects are commonly not pair-wise additive. Therefore, the prediction of phase transitions of particles with depletion interaction is not straightforward. As a starting point a description is required for the thermodynamic properties of the pure colloidal dispersion. Here the colloid-atom analogy, recognized by Einstein and exploited by Perrin in his classical experiments, is very useful. Subsequently, we explain the basics of the free volume theory for the phase behaviour of colloids + depletants. In this chapter we treat only simplest type of depletant, the penetrable hard sphere.
    01/2011;

Publication Stats

5k Citations
762.34 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1970–2014
    • Utrecht University
      • • Van't Hoff Laboratory for Physical and Colloid Chemistry
      • • Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science (DINS)
      Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 2010
    • University of Leuven
      Louvain, Flanders, Belgium
  • 2008
    • University of Amsterdam
      • Van der Waals-Zeeman Institute
      Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
  • 1999
    • University of Milan
      • Department of Physics
      Milano, Lombardy, Italy
  • 1998
    • Delft University of Technology
      Delft, South Holland, Netherlands
  • 1995
    • Hogeschool Utrecht
      Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 1980
    • Vrije Universiteit Brussel
      Bruxelles, Brussels Capital Region, Belgium