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Hydrodynamic and contact contributions to continuous shear thickening in colloidal suspensions

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Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2015


Shear thickening is a widespread phenomenon in suspension flow that, despite sustained study, is still the subject of much debate. The longstanding view that shear thickening is due to hydrodynamic clusters has been challenged by recent theory and simulations suggesting that contact forces dominate, not only in discontinuous, but also in continuous shear thickening. Here, we settle this dispute using shear reversal experiments on micron-sized silica and latex particles to measure directly the hydrodynamic and contact force contributions to shear thickening. We find that contact forces dominate even continuous shear thickening. Computer simulations show that these forces most likely arise from frictional interactions.

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