Faculté des sciences

Multiple dynamic regimes in concentrated microgel systems

Sessoms, David A. ; Bischofberger, Irmgard ; Cipelletti, Luca ; Trappe, Véronique

In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 2009, vol. 367, no. 1909, p. 5013-5032

We investigate dynamical heterogeneities in the collective relaxation of a concentrated microgel system, for which the packing fraction can be conveniently varied by changing the temperature. The packing fraction-dependent mechanical properties are characterized by a fluid–solid transition, where the system properties switch from a viscous to an elastic low-frequency behaviour. Approaching this... Plus

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    Summary
    We investigate dynamical heterogeneities in the collective relaxation of a concentrated microgel system, for which the packing fraction can be conveniently varied by changing the temperature. The packing fraction-dependent mechanical properties are characterized by a fluid–solid transition, where the system properties switch from a viscous to an elastic low-frequency behaviour. Approaching this transition from below, we find that the range ξ of spatial correlations in the dynamics increases. Beyond this transition, ξ reaches a maximum, extending over the entire observable system size of approximately 5 mm. Increasing the packing fraction even further leads to a second transition, which is characterized by the development of large zones of lower and higher dynamical activity that are well separated from each other; the range of correlation decreases at this point. This striking non-monotonic dependence of ξ on volume fraction is reminiscent of the behaviour recently observed at the jamming/rigidity transition in granular systems. We identify this second transition as the transition to ‘squeezed’ states, where the constituents of the system start to exert direct contact forces on each other, such that the dynamics becomes increasingly determined by imbalanced stresses. Evidence of this transition is also found in the frequency dependence of the storage and loss moduli, which become increasingly coupled as direct friction between the particles starts to contribute to the dissipative losses within the system. To our knowledge, our data provide the first observation of a qualitative change in dynamical heterogeneity as the dynamics switches from purely thermally driven to stress driven.