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The Materials Science of Field-Responsive Fluids

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 November 2013

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Scientists and engineers are most familiar with single-crystal or polycrystalline field-responsive or “smart” materials with responses typically occurring while the materials remain in the solid state. This issue of MRS Bulletin focuses on another class of field-responsive materials that exhibits a rapid, reversible, and tunable transition from a liquidlike, free-flowing state to a solidlike state upon the application of an external field. These materials demonstrate dramatic changes in their rheological behavior in response to an externally applied electric or magnetic field and are known as electrorheological (ER) fluids or magnetorheological (MR) fluids, respectively. They are often described as Bingham plastics, and exhibit a strong field-dependent shear modulus and a yield stress that must be overcome to initiate gross material deformation or flow. Prototypical ER fluids consist of linear dielectric particles (such as silica, titania, and zeolites) dispersed in nonconductive liquids such as silicone oils. Homogeneous liquid-crystalline (LC) polymerbased ER fluids have also been recently reported. MR fluids are based on ferromagnetic or ferrimagnetic, magnetically nonlinear particles (e.g., iron, nickel, cobalt, and ceramic ferrites) dispersed in organic or “aqueous liquids. Unlike ER and MR fluids, ferrofluids (or magnetic fluids), which are stable dispersions of nanosized superparamagnetic particulates (~5–10 nm) of such materials as iron oxide, do not develop a yield stress on application of a magnetic field. Applications of ferrofluids are primarily in the area of sealing devices (see Rosensweig for more information). Since ferrofluids are well-known and have been extensively discussed elsewhere in the literature, they will not be treated in detail here.


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The Materials Science of Field-Responsive Fluids
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Copyright © Materials Research Society 1998

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