Arrested fluid-fluid phase separation in depletion systems: Implications of the characteristic length on gel formation and rheology

We investigate the structural, dynamical, and rheological properties of colloid-polymer mixtures in a volume fraction range of φ=0.15-0.35. Our systems are density-matched, residual charges are screened, and the polymer-colloid size ratio is ∼0.37. For these systems, the transition to kinetically arrested states, including disconnected clusters and gels, coincides with the fluid-fluid phase separation boundary. Structural investigations reveal that the characteristic length, L, of the networks is a strong function of the quench depth: for shallow quenches, L is significantly larger than that obtained for deep quenches. By contrast, L is for a given quench depth almost independent of φ; this indicates that the strand thickness increases with φ. The strand thickness determines the linear rheology: the final relaxation time exhibits a strong dependence on φ, whereas the high frequency modulus does not. We present a simple model based on estimates of the strand breaking time and shear modulus that semiquantitatively describes the observed behavior. © 2010 The Society of Rheology.

Published in:
Journal of Rheology, 54, 2, 421
American Institute of Physics

 Record created 2012-11-26, last modified 2018-01-28

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