Fluid-fluid coexistence in colloidal systems with short-ranged strongly directional attraction
We present a systematic numerical study of the phase behavior of square-well fluids with a "patchy" short-ranged attraction. In particular, we study the effect of the size and number of attractive patches on the fluid-fluid coexistence. The model that we use is a generalization of the hard sphere square well model. The systems that we study have a stronger tendency to form gels than the isotropic square-well system. For this reason, we had to combine Gibbs ensemble simulations of the fluid-fluid coexistence with a parallel tempering scheme. For moderate directionality, changes of the critical density and the width of coexistence curves are small. For strong directionality, however, we find clear deviations from the extended law of corresponding states: in contrast to isotropic attractions, the critical point is not characterized by a universal value of the reduced second virial coefficient. Furthermore, as the directionality increases, multiparticle bonding affects the critical temperature. We discuss implications for the phase behavior, and possibly crystallization, of globular proteins.