Colloids are microscopic particles so small that they move diffusively when dispersed in a fluid, exhibiting Brownian motion, controlled by the temperature of the system, like atoms. However, unlike atoms, colloids are big enough to see with light, so they can be probed with microscopes and laser light scattering. The interactions between atoms are fixed, dictated by quantum mechanics, but those in colloids can be very finely tuned. This makes them an ideal model system for investigating the structure and properties of all sorts of materials, constructed from colloidal particle building blocks, such as crystals, glasses, gels, fluids and gases.
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