Microscopic interactions and emerging elasticity in model soft particulate gels

M Bantawa and WA Fontaine-Seiler and PD Olmsted and E Del Gado, JOURNAL OF PHYSICS-CONDENSED MATTER, 33, 414001 (2021).

DOI: 10.1088/1361-648X/ac14f6

We discuss a class of models for particulate gels in which the particle contacts are described by an effective interaction combining a two-body attraction and a three-body angular repulsion. Using molecular dynamics, we show how varying the model parameters allows us to sample, for a given gelation protocol, a variety of gel morphologies. For a specific set of the model parameters, we identify the local elastic structures that get interlocked in the gel network. Using the analytical expression of their elastic energy from the microscopic interactions, we can estimate their contribution to the emergent elasticity of the gel and gain new insight into its origin.

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