Shear thickening behavior in dense repulsive and attractive suspensions of hard spheres

Vikram Rathee, Alessandro Monti, Marco E. Rosti, Amy Q. Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Shear thickening in stable dense colloidal suspensions is a reversible phenomenon and no hysteresis is observed in the flow curve measurements. However, a reduction in the stability of colloids promotes particle aggregation and introduces a time dependent rheological response. In this work, by using a model colloidal system of hard spherical silica particles (average diameter of 415 nm) with varying particle volume fractions 0.2 ≤ϕ≤ 0.56, we study the effect of particle stability on the hysteresis of the shear thickening behavior of these suspensions. The particle stability is manipulated by adding a simple monovalent salt (sodium chloride) in the silica suspension with varying concentrationsα∈ [0,0.5] M. For repulsive and weakly attractive suspensions, the flow behavior is history independent and the shear thickening behavior does not exhibit hysteresis. However, significant hysteresis is observed in rheological measurements for strongly attractive suspensions, with shear history playing a critical role due to the dynamic nature of particle clusters, resulting in time dependent hysteresis behavior. By performing numerical simulations, we find that this hysteresis behavior arises due to the competition among shear, electrostatic repulsive, van der Waals attractive, and frictional contact forces. The critical shear stress (i.e., the onset of shear thickening) decreases with increasing salt concentrations, which can be captured by a scaling relationship based on the force balance between particle-particle contact force and electrostatic repulsive force. Our combined experimental and simulation results imply the formation of particle contacts in our sheared suspensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8047-8058
Number of pages12
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 21 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


Dive into the research topics of 'Shear thickening behavior in dense repulsive and attractive suspensions of hard spheres'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this