"Decoupling of rotational and translational diffusion in supercooled colloidal fluids"
KV Edmond, MT Elsesser, GL Hunter, DJ Pine, and ER Weeks, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 109, 17891-17896 (2012) (doi:10.1073/pnas.1203328109)

We use confocal microscopy to directly observe 3D translational and rotational diffusion of tetrahedral clusters, which serve as tracers in colloidal supercooled fluids. We find that as the colloidal glass transition is approached, translational and rotational diffusion decouple from each other: Rotational diffusion remains inversely proportional to the growing viscosity whereas translational diffusion does not, decreasing by a much lesser extent. We quantify the rotational motion with two distinct methods, finding agreement between these methods, in contrast with recent simulation results. The decoupling coincides with the emergence of non-Gaussian displacement distributions for translation whereas rotational displacement distributions remain Gaussian. Ultimately, our work demonstrates that as the glass transition is approached, the sample can no longer be approximated as a continuum fluid when considering diffusion.