UMR 5672

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Shear-Induced Fragmentation of Laponite Suspensions

T. Gibaud, N. Taberlet, S. Manneville

Collaboration : C. Barentin (LPMCN, Universite de Lyon)

Simultaneous rheological and velocity profile measurements are performed in a smooth Couette geometry on laponite suspensions seeded with glass microspheres and undergoing the shear-induced solid-to-fluid (or yielding) transition. Under these slippery boundary conditions, a rich temporal behaviour is uncovered, in which shear localization is observed at short times, which rapidly gives way to a highly heterogeneous flow, characterized by intermittent switching from plug-like flow to linear velocity profiles. Such a temporal behaviour is linked to the fragmentation of the initially solid sample into blocks separated by fluidized regions. These solid pieces get progressively eroded over timescales ranging from a few minutes to several hours depending on the applied shear rate small gamma, Greek, dot above. The steady-state is characterized by a homogeneous flow with almost negligible wall slip. The characteristic timescale for erosion is shown to diverge below some critical shear rate and to scale as a power law of exponent of about 2 above this critical shear rate. A tentative model for erosion is discussed together with open questions raised by the present results. 

T. Gibaud, C. Barentin, N. Taberlet, and S. Manneville, Soft Matter 5, 3026-3037 (2009)