Biological & Soft Matter Seminar: Phase separation in multicomponent liquid mixtures
Dr. Andrej Kosmrlj, Princeton University
Multicomponent systems are ubiquitous in nature and industry. While the physics of binary and ternary liquid mixtures is well-understood, the thermodynamic and kinetic properties of N-component mixtures with N>3 have remained relatively unexplored. Inspired by recent examples of intracellular phase separation, we investigate equilibrium phase behavior and morphology of N-component liquid mixtures within the Flory-Huggins theory of regular solutions. In order to determine the number of coexisting phases and their compositions, we developed a new algorithm for constructing complete phase diagrams, based on numerical convexification of the discretized free energy landscape. Together with a Cahn-Hilliard approach for kinetics, we employ this method to study mixtures with N=4 and 5 components. In this talk I will discuss both the coarsening behavior of such systems, as well as the resulting morphologies in 3D. I will also mention how the number of coexisting phases and their compositions can be extracted with Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and K-Means clustering algorithms. Finally, I will discuss how one can reverse engineer the interaction parameters and volume fractions of components in order to achieve a range of desired packing structures, such as nested "Russian dolls" and encapsulated Janus droplets.