Yielding and resolidification of colloidal gels under constant stress

Esmaeel Moghimi, Andrew B Schofield, George Petekidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We examine the macroscopic deformation of a colloidal depletion gel subjected to a step shear stress. Three regimes are identified depending on the magnitude of the applied stress: (i) for stresses below yield stress, the gel undergoes a weak creep in which the bulk deformation grows sublinearly with time similar to crystalline and amorphous solids. For stresses above yield stress, when the bulk deformation exceeds approximately the attraction range, the sublinear increase of deformation turns into a superlinear growth which signals the onset of non-linear rearrangements and yielding of the gel. However, the long-time creep after such superlinear growth shows two distinct behaviors: (ii) under strong stresses, a viscous flow is reached in which the strain increases linearly with time. This indicates a complete yielding and flow of the gel. In stark contrast, (iii) for weak stresses, the gel after yielding starts to resolidify. More homogenous gels that are produced through enhancement of either interparticle attraction strength or strain amplitude of the oscillatory preshear, resolidify gradually. In contrast, in gels that are more heterogeneous resolidification occurs abruptly. We also find that heterogenous gels produced by oscillatory preshear at intermediate strain amplitude yield in a two-step process. Finally, the characteristic time for the onset of delayed yielding is found to follow a two-step decrease with increasing stress. This is comprised of an exponential decrease at low stresses, during which bond reformation is decisive and resolidification is detected, and a power law decrease at higher stresses where bond breaking and particle rearrangements dominate.
Original languageEnglish
Article number284002
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Physics: Condensed Matter
Issue number28
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2021


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