Characterization of sheared colloidal aggregation using Langevin dynamics simulation

Sergiy Markutsya, Rodney O. Fox, Shankar Subramaniam

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18 Scopus citations


Aggregation of colloidal particles under shear is studied in model systems using a Langevin dynamics model with an improved interparticle interaction potential. In the absence of shear, aggregates that form are characterized by compact structure at small scales and ramified structure at larger scales. This confirms the structural crossover mechanism previously suggested by Sorensen and coworkers, that colloidal aggregation occurs due to monomer addition at small scales and due to cluster-cluster aggregation at large scales. The fractal dimension of nonsheared aggregates is scale-dependent. Smaller aggregates have a higher fractal dimension than larger ones, but the radius of gyration where this crossover occurs is independent of potential well depth for sufficiently deep wells. When these aggregates are subjected to shear they become anisotropic and form extended cigar-like structures. The size of sheared anisotropic aggregates in the direction perpendicular to the shear flow is limited by shear-induced breakage because the shear force dominates interparticle attraction for sufficiently large aggregates. Anisotropic aggregates are not completely characterized by a single radius of gyration, but rather by an inertia ellipsoid. Consequently the fractal dimension is no longer an adequate metric to properly characterize them, and to identify changes in their structure from their nonsheared isotropic counterparts. We introduce a new compactness-anisotropy analysis that characterizes the structure of anisotropic aggregates and allows us to distinguish between aggregates from sheared and nonsheared systems. Finally, using the ratio of interparticle force to the shear force fpot,sh we are able to characterize different outcomes of sheared aggregation as a function of dimensionless well depth and Péclet number.

Original languageEnglish
Article number062312
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 25 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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