The effects of polydispersity on the initial susceptibilities of ferrofluids

Philip J. Camp*, Ekaterina A. Elfimova, Alexey O. Ivanov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of particle-size polydispersity on the initial susceptibilities of concentrated ferrofluids are analyzed using a combination of theory and computer simulation. The study is focused on a model ferrofluid with a prescribed magnetic-core diameter distribution, a fixed non-magnetic surface layer (corresponding to a demagnetized layer and adsorbed surfactant) and a combination of dipolar and hard-core interactions. The non-trivial effects of polydispersity are identified by comparing the initial susceptibilities of monodisperse and polydisperse ferrofluids with the same Langevin susceptibility. The theory is based on a correction to the second-order modified mean-field theory arising from a formal Mayer-type cluster expansion; this correction is dependent on a parameter similar to the normal dipolar coupling constant, except that it contains a complicated double average over the particle-size distribution, which means that the initial susceptibility should depend significantly on polydispersity. Specifically, the theory predicts that the initial susceptibility is enhanced significantly by polydispersity. This prediction is tested rigorously against results from Monte Carlo simulations and is found to be robust. The qualitative agreement between theory and simulation is already satisfactory, but the quantitative agreement could be improved by a systematic extension of the cluster expansion. The overall conclusion is that polydispersity should be accounted for carefully in magnetogranulometric analyses of real ferrofluids.

Original languageEnglish
Article number456002
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physics: Condensed Matter
Issue number45
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2014


  • ferrofluids
  • polydispersity
  • magnetic susceptibility
  • theory
  • simulation


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