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Ageing And Yield Behaviour In Model Soft Colloidal Glasses

C. Christopoulou, G. Petekidis, B. Erwin, M. Cloitre, D. Vlassopoulos

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We use multi-arm star polymers as model soft colloids with tuneable interactions and explore their behaviour in the glassy state. In particular, we perform a systematic rheological study with a well-defined protocol and address aspects of ageing and shear melting of star glasses. Ageing proceeds in two distinct steps: a fast step of O (10 3  s) and a slow step of O (10 4  s). We focus on creep and recovery tests, which reveal a rich, albeit complex response. Although the waiting time, the time between pre-shear (rejuvenation) of the glassy sample and measurement, affects the material’s response, it does not play the same role as in other soft glasses. For stresses below the yield value, the creep curve is divided into three regimes with increasing time: viscoplastic, intermediate steady flow (associated with the first ageing step) and long-time evolving elastic solid. This behaviour reflects the interplay between ageing and shear rejuvenation. The yield behaviour, as investigated with the stress-dependent recoverable strain, indicates a highly nonlinear elastic response intermediate between a low-stress Hookean solid and a high-stress viscoelastic liquid, and exemplifies the distinct characteristics of this class of hairy colloids. It appears that a phenomenological classification of different colloidal glasses based on yielding performance may be possible.