Nonlinear oscillatory rheology and structure of wormlike micellar solutions and colloidal suspensions
Gurnon, Amanda Kate
University of Delaware
The complex, nonlinear flow behavior of soft materials transcends industrial applications, smart material design and non-equilibrium thermodynamics. A long-standing, fundamental challenge in soft-matter science is establishing a quantitative connection between the deformation field, local microstructure and macroscopic dynamic flow properties i.e., the rheology. Soft materials are widely used in consumer products and industrial processes including energy recovery, surfactants for personal healthcare (e.g. soap and shampoo), coatings, plastics, drug delivery, medical devices and therapeutics. Oftentimes, these materials are processed by, used during, or exposed to non-equilibrium conditions for which the transient response of the complex fluid is critical. As such, designing new dynamic experiments is imperative to testing these materials and further developing micromechanical models to predict their transient response. Two of the most common classes of these soft materials stand as the focus of the present research; they are: solutions of polymer-like micelles (PLM or also known as wormlike micelles, WLM) and concentrated colloidal suspensions. In addition to their varied applications these two different classes of soft materials are also governed by different physics. In contrast, to the shear thinning behavior of the WLMs at high shear rates, the near hard-sphere colloidal suspensions are known to display increases, sometimes quite substantial, in viscosity (known as shear thickening). The stress response of these complex fluids derive from the shear-induced microstructure, thus measurements of the microstructure under flow are critical for understanding the mechanisms underlying the complex, nonlinear rheology of these complex fluids. A popular micromechanical model is reframed from its original derivation for predicting steady shear rheology of polymers and WLMs to be applicable to weakly nonlinear oscillatory shear flow. The validity, utility and limits of this constitutive model are tested by comparison with experiments on model WLM solutions. Further comparisons to the nonlinear oscillatory shear responses measured from colloidal suspensions establishes this analysis as a promising, quantitative method for understanding the underlying mechanisms responsible for the nonlinear dynamic response of complex fluids. A new experimental technique is developed to measure the microstructure of complex fluids during steady and transient shear flow using small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). The Flow-SANS experimental method is now available to the broader user communities at the NIST Center for Neutron Research, Gaithersburg, MD and the Institut Laue-Langevin, Grenoble, France. Using this new method, a model shear banding WLM solution is interrogated under steady and oscillatory shear. For the first time, the flow-SANS methods identify new metastable states for shear banding WLM solutions, thus establishing the method as capable of probing new states not accessible using traditional steady or linear oscillatory shear methods. The flow-induced three-dimensional microstructure of a colloidal suspension under steady and dynamic oscillatory shear is also measured using these rheo- and flow-SANS methods. A new structure state is identified in the shear thickening regime that proves critical for defining the "hydrocluster" microstructure state of the suspension that is responsible for shear thickening. For both the suspensions and the WLM solutions, stress-SANS rules with the measured microstructures define the individual stress components arising separately from conservative and hydrodynamic forces and these are compared with the macroscopic rheology. Analysis of these results defines the crucial length- and time-scales of the transient microstructure response. The novel dynamic microstructural measurements presented in this dissertation provide new insights into the complexities of shear thickening and shear banding flow phenomena, which are effects observed more broadly across many different types of soft materials. Consequently, the microstructure-rheology property relationships developed for these two classes of complex fluids will aid in the testing and advancement of micromechanical constitutive model development, smart material design, industrial processing and fundamental non-equilibrium thermodynamic research of a broad range of soft materials.