The effects of particle size on reversible shear thickening of concentrated colloidal dispersions
The particle size dependence of the reversible shear thickening transition in dense colloidal suspensions is explored. Five suspensions of monodisperse silica are synthesized via the Stöber synthesis. The physicochemical properties of the dispersions are quantified using transmission electron microscopy, dynamic light scattering, small angle light scattering, electrophoresis, and viscometry. Rheology measurements indicate a critical stress marking the onset of reversible shear thickening that depends on the dispersion’s particle size, concentration, polydispersity, and interparticle interactions. A simplified two particle force balance between the interparticle repulsive forces and the hydrodynamic compressive forces is used to derive a scaling relationship between this critical shear stress and the suspension properties. The scaling is tested against the fully characterized silica dispersions, which span nearly a decade in particle size. Furthermore, bimodal mixtures of the dispersions are employed to evaluate the accuracy of the scaling to predict the critical shear stress for dispersions with varying degrees of polydispersity. The success of the scaling supports the hydrocluster mechanism for shear thickening and suggests methods for controlling shear thickening by tailoring particle properties. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.