Date Published:28 August 2015
Colloidal particles with well-controlled shapes and interactions are an ideal experimental system for exploring how matter organizes itself. Like atoms and molecules, these particles form bulk phases such as liquids and crystals. But they are more than just crude analogs of atoms; they are a form of matter in their own right, with complex and interesting collective behavior not seen at the atomic scale. Their behavior is affected by geometrical or topological constraints, such as curved surfaces or the shapes of the particles. Because the interactions between the particles are often short-ranged, we can understand the effects of these constraints using geometrical concepts such as packing. The geometrical viewpoint gives us a window into how entropy affects not only the structure of matter, but also the dynamics of how it forms.