We introduce a continuum description of the thermodynamics of colloids with a core-corona architecture. In the case of thick coronas, their overlap can be treated approximately by replacing the exact one-particle density distribution by a suitably shaped step profile, which provides a convenient way of modeling the spherical, columnar, lamellar, and inverted cluster morphologies predicted by numerical simulations and the more involved theories. We use the model to study monodisperse particles with the hard-core/square-shoulder pair interaction as the simplest representatives of the core-corona class. We derive approximate analytical expressions for the enthalpies of the cluster morphologies which offer a clear insight into the mechanisms at work, and we calculate the lattice spacing and the cluster size for all morphologies of the phase sequence as well as the phase-transition pressures. By comparing the results with the exact crystalline minimum-enthalpy configurations, we show that the accuracy of the theory increases with shoulder width. We discuss possible extensions of the theory that could account for the finite-temperature effects.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry