Rheology, microscopic dynamics and material failure in the creep of a colloidal gel

Conference Dates

July 10-14, 2016


The mechanical properties of amorphous solids such as glasses or gels are currently a topic of intense research, with implications in material science as well in fundamental condensed matter physics. Traditionally, researchers have investigated the relationship between two macroscopic quantities: the stress applied to the sample and the resulting strain. Recent works aim at gaining a deeper understanding of the origin of the rheological properties, by coupling rheology to structural and dynamical measurements.

I’ll discuss experiments probing the relationship between rheology and microscopic dynamics during the creep of a colloidal gel under a constant shear stress. The gel creep consists of three regimes. Deviations from a purely elastic (or affine) deformation are observed in the initial regime. These non-affine dynamics are fully reversible upon removing the applied stress, and are associated to the heterogeneity of the local gel elasticity. In the second regime, non-affine displacements grow much slower with strain, but are associated to irreversible rearrangements. In the third regime, a sharp acceleration of the dynamics at small length scale is observed. These faster rearrangements precede the macroscopic failure of the gel by thousands of seconds: they thus are dynamic precursors of failure that allow one to predict the fate of the gel well before any rheological measurement.

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