Linking Particle Dynamics to Local Connectivity in Colloidal Gels

Doorn, Jan Maarten Van; Bronkhorst, Jochem; Higler, Ruben; De Laar, Ties Van; Sprakel, Joris


Colloidal gels are a prototypical example of a heterogeneous network solid whose complex properties are governed by thermally activated dynamics. In this Letter we experimentally establish the connection between the intermittent dynamics of individual particles and their local connectivity. We interpret our experiments with a model that describes single-particle dynamics based on highly cooperative thermal debonding. The model, in quantitative agreement with experiments, provides a microscopic picture for the structural origin of dynamical heterogeneity in colloidal gels and sheds new light on the link between structure and the complex mechanics of these heterogeneous solids.