The complex, nonlinear flow behavior of soft materials transcends industrial applications, smart material design and non-equilibrium thermodynamics. A long-standing, fundamental challenge in soft-matter science is establishing a quantitative connection between the deformation field, local microstructure and macroscopic dynamic flow properties i.e., the rheology. Here, a new experimental method is developed using simultaneous small angle neutron scattering (SANS) and nonlinear oscillatory shear rheometry to investigate the spatiotemporal microstructure evolution of a polymer-like micellar (PLM) solution. We demonstrate the novelty of nonlinear oscillatory shear experimental methods to create and interrogate metastable material states. These include a precursory state to the shear banded condition as well as a disentangled, low viscosity state with an inhomogeneous supra-molecular microstructure flowing at high shear rates. This new experimental evidence provides insight into the complexities of the shear banding phenomenon often observed in sheared complex fluids and provides valuable data for quantitatively testing non-equilibrium theory.
A. Kate Gurnon, Carlos R. Lopez-Barron, Aaron P. R. Eberle, Lionel Porcar and Norman J. Wagner, Soft Matter, 2014,10, 2889-2898