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Journal Article

Anisotropy and probe-medium interactions in the microrheology of nematic fluids.


Mazza,  Marco G.
Group Non-equilibrium soft matter, Department of Dynamics of Complex Fluids, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Max Planck Society;

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Córdoba, A., Stieger, T., Mazza, M. G., Schoen, M., & de Pablo, J. J. (2016). Anisotropy and probe-medium interactions in the microrheology of nematic fluids. Journal of Rheology, 60(1), 75-95. doi:10.1122/1.4935849.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-5E7C-B
A theoretical formalism is presented to analyze and interpret microrheology experiments in anisotropic fluids with nematic order. The predictions of that approach are examined in the context of a simple coarse-grained molecular model which is simulated using nonequilibrium molecular dynamics calculations. The proposed formalism is used to study the effect of confinement, the type of anchoring at the probe-particle surface, and the strength of the nematic field on the rheological response functions obtained from probe-particle active microrheology. As expected, a stronger nematic field leads to increased anisotropy in the rheological response of the material. It is also found that the defect structures that arise around the probe particle, which are determined by the type of anchoring and the particle size, have a significant effect on the rheological response observed in microrheology simulations. Independent estimates of the bulk dynamic modulus of the model nematic fluid considered here are obtained from small-amplitude oscillatory shear simulations with Lees–Edwards boundary conditions. The results of simulations indicate that the dynamic modulus extracted from particle-probe microrheology is different from that obtained in the absence of the particle, but that the differences decrease as the size of the defect also decreases. Importantly, the results of the nematic microrheology theory proposed here are in much closer agreement with simulations than those from earlier formalisms conceived for isotropic fluids. As such, it is anticipated that the theoretical framework advanced in this study could provide a useful tool for interpretation of microrheology experiments in systems such as liquid crystals and confined macromolecular solutions or gels.