Skip to main content
Log in

An experimental investigation of negative wakes behind spheres settling in a shear-thinning viscoelastic fluid

  • Published:
Rheologica Acta Aims and scope Submit manuscript


We present detailed experimental results examining “negative wakes” behind spheres settling along the centerline of a tube containing a viscoelastic aqueous polyacrylamide solution. Negative wakes are found for all Deborah numbers (2.43≤De(˙γ)≤8.75) and sphere-to-tube aspect ratios (0.060≤a/R≤0.396) examined. The wake structures are investigated using laser-Doppler velocimetry (LDV) to examine the centerline fluid velocity around the sphere and digital particle image velocimetry (DPIV) for full-field velocity profiles. For a fixed aspect ratio, the magnitude of the most negative velocity, U min , in the wake is seen to increase with increasing De. Additionally, as the Deborah number becomes larger, the location of this minimum velocity shifts farther downstream. When normalized with the sphere radius and the steady state velocity of the sphere, the axial velocity profiles become self-similar to the point of the minimum velocity. Beyond this point, the wake structure varies weakly with aspect ratio and De, and it extends more than 20 radii downstream. Inertial effects at high Reynolds numbers are observed to shift the entire negative wake farther downstream. Using DPIV to investigate the transient kinematic response of the fluid to the initial acceleration of the sphere from rest, it is seen that the wake develops from the nonlinear fluid response at large strains. Measurements of the transient uniaxial extensional viscosity of this weakly strain-hardening fluid using a filament stretching rheometer show that the existence of a negative wake is consistent with theoretical arguments based on the opposing roles of extensional stresses and shearing stresses in the wake of the sphere.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Additional information

Received: 10 November 1997 Accepted: 1 May 1998

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Arigo, M., McKinley, G. An experimental investigation of negative wakes behind spheres settling in a shear-thinning viscoelastic fluid. Rheol. Acta 37, 307–327 (1998).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: