Rheology of a dilute suspension of liquid-filled elastic capsules

Prosenjit Bagchi, R. Murthy Kalluri

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Rheology of a dilute suspension of liquid-filled elastic capsules in linear shear flow is studied by three-dimensional numerical simulations using a front-tracking method. This study is motivated by a recent discovery that a suspension of viscous vesicles exhibits a shear viscosity minimum when the vesicles undergo an unsteady vacillating-breathing dynamics at the threshold of a transition between the tank-treading and tumbling motions. Here we consider capsules of spherical resting shape for which only a steady tank-treading motion is observed. A comprehensive analysis of the suspension rheology is presented over a broad range of viscosity ratio (ratio of internal-to-external fluid viscosity), shear rate (or, capillary number), and capsule surface-area dilatation. We find a result that the capsule suspension exhibits a shear viscosity minimum at moderate values of the viscosity ratio, and high capillary numbers, even when the capsules are in a steady tank-treading motion. It is further observed that the shear viscosity minimum exists for capsules with area-dilating membranes but not for those with nearly incompressible membranes. Nontrivial results are also observed for the normal stress differences which are shown to decrease with increasing capillary number at high viscosity ratios. Such nontrivial results neither can be predicted by the small-deformation theory nor can be explained by the capsule geometry alone. Physical mechanisms underlying these results are studied by decomposing the particle stress tensor into a contribution due to the elastic stresses in the capsule membrane and a contribution due to the viscosity differences between the internal and suspending fluids. It is shown that the elastic contribution is shear-thinning, but the viscous contribution is shear thickening. The coupling between the capsule geometry and the elastic and viscous contributions is analyzed to explain the observed trends in the bulk rheology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number056320
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 25 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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