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Shear influence on colloidal cluster growth: a SANS and USANS study



Chris Muzny


This study examines the time evolution of silica/water clusters where the formation of a gel network from unitary silica particles is interrupted by a simple Couette shear field. The aim is to enable the general understanding of this simple system by examining the microscopic basis for the changes in viscosity by providing structural inputs from small-angle scattering for a simple theoretical model. The experimental system is an 8.3 nm particle silica solution (Ludox) where the gelation has been initiated by lowering the pH in a Couette cell providing a constant shear rate of 250 s^-1. A unified small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) and ultra-small-angle neutron scattering (USANS) procedure is described to measure the scattered intensity in a wavevector range of 3 x 10^-4 ,= q (nm^-1) <= 3.1 x 10^-1, probing structural changes over a broad range of length scales from the nanometre to the micrometre. Scattering data provide a new means of better understanding the behaviour of colloidal clusters when subjected to an external applied shear over a continuous time sequence after gel initiation; a fit of the time-dependent scattered intensity leads to an estimation of the cluster's effective volume fraction and size as a function of time. A reductionist theoretical basis is described to predict the time-dependent viscosity behaviour of the sheared colloidal suspension gel-initiated cluster growth from the volume fraction of the clusters.
Journal of Applied Crystallography


colloidal silica, retarded gelation, applied shear, viscosity, time-dependent phenomena, small-angle neutron scattering, SANS, ultra-small-angle neutron scattering, USANS, micrometre scale, structure factor derivation, volume fraction


Muzny, C. (2023), Shear influence on colloidal cluster growth: a SANS and USANS study, Journal of Applied Crystallography, [online], (Accessed May 28, 2024)


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Created August 1, 2023, Updated September 19, 2023