Book review: Colloidal Suspension Rheology

by | Jun 30, 2014

Professor J. M. Brader of the University of Freiburg reviews Colloidal Suspension Rheology from Cambridge University Press.

colloidal-suspension-rheologyColloidal Suspension Rheology
By Jan Mewis and Norman J. Wagner
ISBN: 9781107622807
413 pages
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Reviewed by Professor J. M. Brader, University of Freiburg

Suspension rheology is a broad, interdisciplinary and rapidly evolving field. It is therefore no mean feat to produce a textbook which is concise, but still covers in a serious way all of the key ideas necessary to appreciate the modern literature. The authors, Jan Mewis and Norman Wagner, are well-known experts in the field and have succeeded admirably in writing an accessible, yet scientifically rigorous, text, which is very well suited for use in an advanced undergraduate or graduate course. The presentation is well balanced, with equal attention paid to both theoretical and experimental aspects, and the writing style is very accessible to the non-specialist. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone as an introduction to the field.

The arrangement of the material is very logical and leads the reader from the interactions and dynamics of the individual particles, through to rheological effects arising from many-body physics, namely thixotropy and shear thickening. Each Chapter (with the exception of the first and last) includes a section on `landmark observations’, which help to focus the discussion and provide context. These landmark observations, together with the shaded information boxes concerning the contributions of particular researchers, add considerable value to this work. In my own student days I was always curious about the personalities behind the science and I think that the information boxes provided throughout this book, albeit brief, really help to connect with the material on a more human level.

The introductory chapter covers a lot of material in a relatively short space, but succeeds in providing a solid basis for that which is to follow. Here, and throughout the book, the authors are very careful to establish notation and all symbols used are summarized at the end of the Chapter. I think that this care will be well appreciated by newcomers to the field, as the variety of notation employed in the literature can be very confusing, particularly regarding rheological tensors and related quantities. The choice and quantity of references is excellent and investigating these will surely help many readers to efficiently negotiate the vast literature.

Chapters 2 and 3 cover hydrodynamic effects and Brownian hard spheres, respectively. I think that the material contained in these two chapters is very important; the connection between microstructure and rheology lies at the forefront of modern rheological research. From a conceptual standpoint, one of the most difficult aspects of suspension rheology is to get familiar with the theoretical expressions for the stress tensor of Brownian particles subject to hydrodynamic interactions. One can easily become lost in the zoo of hydrodynamic tensors, such that the underlying physical mechanisms become obscured. In my opinion, this book provides the clearest overview available and points clearly to the appropriate references wherever necessary.

Chapters 7 and 8, concerning thixotropy and shear thickening, respectively, deserve a special mention. Both authors have made great contributions to understanding these topics and it shows; the writing here is particularly authoritative and the many experimental observations come together to form a coherent global picture. Topics such as the yield stress, thixotropy and shear thickening are still the subject of active debate and these chapters should prove very useful in consolidating what is currently known and informing further debate.

The final chapter `advanced topics’ introduces some of the more sophisticated methods of colloid rheology, including contributions from Eric Furst and Jan Vermant. Superposition rheology, micro-rheology (both active and passive) and two-dimensional systems are addressed. I very much enjoyed reading this chapter and think it could well provide a springboard for future researchers to get involved in these more exotic aspects of rheology.

To conclude, I think this is an excellent book for advanced undergraduate students to become acquainted with suspension rheology, but which also contains much of interest for seasoned researchers. It is surely destined to play an important role in the future education of chemical engineers and liquid state physicists.