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The phase behavior of helical packings of thermoresponsive microspheres inside glass capillaries is studied as a function of the volume fraction. Stable packings with long-range orientational order appear to evolve abruptly to disordered states as the particle volume fraction is reduced, consistent with recent hard-sphere simulations. We quantify this transition using correlations and susceptibilities of the orientational order parameter 6. The emergence of coexisting metastable packings, as well as coexisting ordered and disordered states, is also observed. These findings support the notion of phase-transition-like behavior in quasi-one-dimensional systems.
Date Posted: 04 November 2010
This document has been peer reviewed.