|Heterogeneous diffusion in a reversible gel |
(Article) Publié: Physical Review Letters, vol. 98 p.135503 (2007)
We introduce a microscopically realistic model of a physical gel and use computer simulations to study its static and dynamic properties at thermal equilibrium. The phase diagram comprises a sol phase, a coexistence region ending at a critical point, a gelation line determined by geometric percolation, and an equilibrium gel phase unrelated to phase separation. The global structure of the gel is homogeneous, but the stress is only supported by a fractal network. The gel dynamics is highly heterogeneous and we propose a theoretical model to quantitatively describe dynamic heterogeneity in gels. We elucidate several differences between the dynamics of gels and that of glass formers.