The rheology and processing of "edge sheared" colloidal polymer opals

Hon Wong , Malcolm Mackley, Simon Butler, J. J. Baumberg, David R. E. Snoswell, Christopher E Finlayson, Qibin Zhao

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This paper is concerned with the rheology and processing of solvent-free core shell “polymer opals” that consist of a soft outer shell grafted to hard colloidal polymer core particles. Strong iridescent colours can be produced by shearing the material in a certain way that causes the initially disordered spheres to rearrange into ordered crystalline structures and produce colours by diffraction and interference of multiple light scattering, similar to gemstone opals. The basic linear viscoelastic rheology of a polymer opal sample was determined as a function of temperature and the material was found to be highly viscoelastic at all tested temperatures. A Cambridge Multipass Rheometer (MPR) was specifically modified in order to make controlled mechanical measurements of initially disordered polymer opal tapes that were sandwiched between protective PET sheets. Axial extension, simple shear and a novel “edge shearing” geometry were all evaluated and multiple successive experiments of the edge shearing test were carried out at different temperatures. The optical development of colloidal ordering, measured as optical opalescence, was quantified by spectroscopy using visible backscattered light. The development of opalescence was found to be sensitive to the geometry of deformation and a number of process variables suggesting a complex interaction of parameters that caused the opalescence. In order to identify aspects of the deformation mechanism of the edge shearing experiment, a separate series of in situ optical experiments were carried out and this helped indicate the extent of simple shear generated with each edge shear deformation. The results show that strong ordering can be induced by successive edge shearing deformation. The results are relevant to polymer opal rheology, processing and mechanisms relating to ordering within complex viscoelastic fluids.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-409
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Rheology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


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