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Effect of Particle Size Distribution on the Rheology of Dispersed Systems

Journal of Colloid and Interface Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1006/jcis.1999.6515
  • Rheology
  • Polydispersity
  • Polystyrene Latex
  • Viscoelasticity
  • Broad Distributions
  • Suspension Rheology
  • Physics


Abstract The rheological properties of aqueous polystyrene latex dispersions from three synthetic batches, with nearly the same z-average particle sizes, 400 nm, but varying degrees of polydispersity, 0.085, 0.301, and 0.485, respectively, were systematically investigated using steady-state shear and oscillatory shear measurements. The particles were sized with photon correlation spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy and were stabilized sterically with PEO–PPO–PEO triblock copolymer (Synperonic F127). Results from steady-state shear measurements show that the viscosities of the systems exhibit shear-thinning behavior at high solid fractions. However, the degree of shear thinning depends on the breadth of particle size distribution, with the narrowest distribution suspension exhibiting the highest degree of shear thinning. The Herschel–Bulkley relationship best describes the flow curves. The relative viscosities as a function of volume fraction data were compared, and it was found that the broadest distribution suspension had the lowest viscosity for a given volume fraction. In addition, the data were fitted to the Krieger–Dougherty equation for hard spheres. A reasonable agreement of theory with experiment is observed, particularly and surprisingly for the very broad distribution. However, when the contribution to the volume due to the adsorbed polymer layer is considered, the agreement between experiment and theory becomes closer for all the suspensions, although the agreement for the broad distribution suspension is now worse. Fitting the Dougherty–Krieger theory to the experimental data based on our experimental maximum packing fractions gives very good agreement for all the systems studied. From oscillatory shear measurements, the moduli were obtained as a function of frequency at various latex volume fractions. The results show general change of the dispersions from viscous (G" >G′) at low volume fractions (0.25–0.30) to moderately elastic (G′ >G") at moderately high volume fractions (0.41–0.45). The change at this concentration level is likely due to some compression and interpenetration of the stabilizing polymer chain at the periphery, indicating the dominance of the interparticle forces. Overall, the very broad distribution was found to have the lowest elastic modulus for a given volume fraction.

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