Collaborative Research: EAGER Proposal on Non-Homogeneous Flow Fields in Nonlinear Rheology: A Challenge to Current Paradigms?

Project: Research project

Project Details



The present EAGER proposal is a collaborative effort among four U.S. institutions (Texas Tech University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University and Illinois Institute of Technology) and one foreign institution (Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands). The technical goal is to detail the limits of validity of reported flow instabilities in entangled polymer melts and solutions. The flow of polymer fluids in conventional rheometers is generally assumed to be nearly viscometric and stable. When instability or secondary flows occur, it is generally acknowledged that such measurements cannot be used to determine material parameters. This is important in any experimental challenge to, e.g., a molecular theory such as the reptation model of polymer chain dynamics. According to a new set of results that has appeared in the literature, the basis for the experimental verification of the reptation theory is, in fact, based upon experiments from non-homogeneous flows. If this is true, it changes the paradigm for the dynamics of polymer fluids in nonlinear deformation regimes. However, much of the community is skeptical of these results and there are multiple reports in the literature of contradictory results. Hence, it is paramount to establish the range of both flow conditions (rate and magnitude of shear) and material parameters (e.g., entanglement density) for which such observations are correct and the range where errors may have been made and to do so in a way that the results are accepted by the community at large. The present proposal is constructed to do this. The groups collaborate through an innovative set of student teams having one representative from at least three institutions for all experiments. Success of the work is defined as achieving an interlaboratory consensus of the flow profiles in polymer solutions and melts. Objectivity is developed by having multiple labs with multiple students performing each type of experiment so that ?neutral eyes? have the major influence in the examination of experimental data. Three types of experiments will be performed, each will be performed in at least two labs and one will be performed in all labs. The experiments are particle tracking velocimetry, confocal microscopy fluorescence dye velocimetry and macroscopic parallel plate-cone and plate comparisons of nonlinear properties.


The major paradigm of polymer rheology is the reptation theory. Because reptation is the present paradigm for polymer flow, it is widely used in industrial settings to understand how to change molecular parameters in making advances in polymer processing. There are several offshoots to reptation theory as well that are beginning to be adopted in industry. Yet, recent work has appeared that is being strongly advanced to challenge this paradigm. It has reported strong flow instabilities which would invalidate the reptation theory in the regime relevant to polymer processing. Hence establishing whether or not the reported flow instabilities occur in industrially relevant ranges of flow rates is important. The present proposal brings together collaborators from four U.S. and one foreign university (Texas Tech University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University and Illinois Institute of Technology,Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands) with the goal of establishing the range of experimental conditions where such flow instabilities occur. Because the general community has not uniformly accepted the reported results, the present collaboration will provide both repeat (for validation purposes) and novel experimentation to establish the range over which the reported results are relevant and how they impact the current understanding of polymer nonlinear rheology and its basis in molecular (reptation) theory. The present proposal does this. In addition, because of its structure as a collaborative work through an innovative set of student teams having one representative from at least three institutions for all experiments. All students will participate in the collaboration with the Technical University of Eindhoven.

Effective start/end date8/1/097/31/12


  • National Science Foundation: $25,000.00


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