Self-poisoning of crystal nuclei in hard-rod liquids
We report a Monte Carlo study of the pathway for crystal nucleation in a fluid of hard, colloidal rods. In the earliest stages of nucleation, a lamellar crystallite forms. Subsequent thickening of this lamella is hampered by the fact that the top and bottom surfaces of this crystallite are preferentially covered by rods that align parallel to the surface. As a consequence, subsequent growth of individual crystals is stunted. Experimental evidence for such stunted crystal growth has recently been reported by Maeda and Maeda in experiments on suspensions of colloidal rods [Phys. Rev. Lett. 90, 018303 (2003)]. The simulations suggest that, in experiments, the growth of multilayer colloidal crystals can be selectively enhanced by the application of an external aligning field.