Sol–gel transition and rheological properties of silica nanoparticle dispersions
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Possible variants of the rheological behavior of silica model dispersions have been analyzed. Different types of interaction between the particles and a dispersion medium make it possible to obtain different systems from low-viscosity sols to gels. Proton-donor (water) and aprotic (dimethyl sulfoxide) media have been used for comparison. Dispersions in the aprotic medium behave as non-Newtonian viscous fluids exhibiting shear thinning or shear thickening depending on deformation rate. Aqueous dispersions are viscoelastic and viscoplastic objects that exhibit the shear thickening at stresses higher than the yield stress. The introduction of small amounts of poly(ethylene oxide) into the organic dispersion medium initiates gelation. An increase in the polymer content in the dispersion medium above the concentration corresponding to the formation of a macromolecular network promotes an increase in stiffness and strength of the gels. The rheological behavior of gels is influenced by the polymer molecular mass and its affinity for a solvent.
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