Relaxation of internal stresses through a cascade of microscopic restructuring events is the hallmark of many materials, ranging from amorphous solids like glasses and gels to geological structures subjected to a persistent external load. By means of photon correlation imaging, a recently developed technique that blends the powers of scattering and imaging, we provide a spatially and temporally resolved survey of the restructuring and aging processes that spontaneously occur in physical gels originating from an arrested phase separation. We show that the temporal dynamics is characterized by an intermittent sequence of spatially localized "microquakes" that eventually lead to global rearrangements occurring at a rate that scales with the gel age. Notably, these dramatic upheavals of the gel structure are heralded by a progressive acceleration of the microscopic gel dynamics that originates from recognizable active spots and then spreads at a large but finite speed through the gel. Within the "slack" phase between two of these "macroquakes," the fluctuations of the degree of temporal correlation obey a non-Gaussian statistics described by a generalized logistic distribution. The evidence we obtained bear consistent analogies with the stress relaxation processes taking place in earthquake sequences and with the intermittent restructuring of plastic crystals at the microscale.

Multiscale relaxation in aging colloidal gels: From localized plastic events to system-spanning quakes

Piazza R.;Buzzaccaro S.
2019

Abstract

Relaxation of internal stresses through a cascade of microscopic restructuring events is the hallmark of many materials, ranging from amorphous solids like glasses and gels to geological structures subjected to a persistent external load. By means of photon correlation imaging, a recently developed technique that blends the powers of scattering and imaging, we provide a spatially and temporally resolved survey of the restructuring and aging processes that spontaneously occur in physical gels originating from an arrested phase separation. We show that the temporal dynamics is characterized by an intermittent sequence of spatially localized "microquakes" that eventually lead to global rearrangements occurring at a rate that scales with the gel age. Notably, these dramatic upheavals of the gel structure are heralded by a progressive acceleration of the microscopic gel dynamics that originates from recognizable active spots and then spreads at a large but finite speed through the gel. Within the "slack" phase between two of these "macroquakes," the fluctuations of the degree of temporal correlation obey a non-Gaussian statistics described by a generalized logistic distribution. The evidence we obtained bear consistent analogies with the stress relaxation processes taking place in earthquake sequences and with the intermittent restructuring of plastic crystals at the microscale.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11311/1166475
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