Polydisperse hard spheres at a hard wall

The structural properties of polydisperse hard spheres in the presence of a hard wall are investigated via Monte Carlo simulation and density functional theory (DFT). Attention is focused on the local density distribution rho(sigma,z), measuring the number density of particles of diameter sigma at a distance z from the wall. Estimates of rho(sigma,z) are obtained for bulk volume fractions eta(b)=0.2 and eta(b)=0.4, and for two choices of the bulk parent distribution: a top-hat form, which we study for degrees of polydispersity delta=11.5% and delta=40.4%, and a truncated Schulz form having delta=40.7%. Excellent overall agreement is found between the DFT and simulation results, particularly at eta(b)=0.2. A detailed analysis of rho(sigma,z) confirms the presence of oscillatory size segregation effects, as observed in a previous DFT study [I. Pagonabarraga, M. E. Cates, and G. J. Ackland, Phys. Rev. Lett. 84, 911 (2000)]. For large delta, the character of these oscillation is observed to depend strongly on the shape of the parent distribution. In the vicinity of the wall, attractive sigma-dependent depletion interactions are found to greatly enhance the density of the largest particles. The local degree of polydispersity delta(z) is suppressed in this region, while further from the wall it exhibits oscillations. (C) 2004 American Institute of Physics.