Rigidity emerges in a broad class of soft matter systems, relevant to many industrial and biological processes. In our experiments, we study a model soft matter system, hard-sphere Brownian suspensions of submicron particles. Brownian suspensions lack rigidity in the absence of external driving, but form flow-stabilized solid-like microsphere heaps under the influence of hydrodynamic forces. The overarching question driving my dissertation is "What is the nature of the rigidity of these microsphere heaps?" Does the rigidity of the heaps follow from mechanical stability driven by a sufficiently interconnected network of particle contacts? Or, does the rigidity of the heaps follow from a kinetic glass transition characterized by a diverging resistance to flow such that the time necessary to observe rearrangements grows prohibitively large? We expect that insights into the mechanism of rigidity of Brownian microsphere heaps are applicable to a wide class of soft matter systems.
In this thesis,we have overcome the limitations of previous experimental approaches. Namely, we show that the rigidity of our heaps does not emerge from the effects of gravity, inertia, static friction, or van der Waals sticking. In Chapter 1 of thesis, we review the background literature. In Chapter 2, we present the experimental, analytical, and computational methods used in the remainder of the thesis. In Chapter 3, we investigate the onset of rigidity by characterizing the steady-state size of the heap versus the imposed flow conditions. We show that thermal fluctuations and repulsive interparticle interactions, the dominant forces at the single-particle scale, suppress the development of a rigid phase. These conditions imply that the onset of rigidity in involves many-body collective interactions. In Chapter 4, we measure the response of the heap to external perturbations, which allows us to measure their elastic modulus and compare our results to hard sphere theoretical expectations. We find bulk nonlinear elastic behavior. In Chapter 5, we study the particle displacements in response to external perturbations and quantify the local nonlinear elastic behavior.
|Advisor:||Daniels, Karen, Riehn, Robert|
|School:||North Carolina State University|
|School Location:||United States -- North Carolina|
|Source:||DAI-B 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Condensed matter physics|
|Keywords:||Microsphere heaps, Rigidity|
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