Abstract:
Soft materials such as colloidal suspensions, polymer solutions and liquid crystals are constituted by mesoscopic entities held together by weak forces. Their mechanical moduli are several orders of magnitude lower than those of atomic solids. The application of small to moderate stresses to these materials results in the disruption of their microstructures. The resulting flow is non-Newtonian and is characterised by features such as shear rate-dependent viscosities and non-zero normal stresses. This article begins with an introduction to some unusual flow properties displayed by soft matter. Experiments that report a spectrum of novel phenomena exhibited by these materials, such as turbulent drag reduction, elastic turbulence, the formation of shear bands and the existence of rheological chaos, flow-induced birefringence and the unusual rheology of soft glassy materials, are reviewed. The focus then shifts to observations of the liquid-like response of granular media that have been subjected to external forces. The article concludes with examples of the patterns that emerge when certain soft materials are vibrated, or when they are displaced with Newtonian fluids of lower viscosities.

Abstract:
The dispersion processes of aqueous samples of clay are studied using ultrasound attenuation spectroscopy. The attenuation spectra that are acquired in the frequency range $10-100$ MHz are used to determine the particle size distributions (PSDs) for different concentrations and ages of the clay suspensions. Our analysis, using equivalent spherical diameter (ESD) for circular discs under Stokes drag in samples of concentrations greater than 1.5\% w/v, shows that a substantial fraction of the aggregates in suspension are actually tactoids that are composed of more than one platelet. This is in contrast to the general belief that clay disperses into individual platelets in the concentration range where their suspensions exhibit glassy behavior. We conclude that the incomplete fragmentation of the clay tactoids arises from the rapid enhancement of the inter-tactoid Coulombic repulsion.

Abstract:
Three drugs, Ibuprofen, Aspirin and Erythromycin, are encapsulated in spherical Pluronic F127 micelles. The shapes and the size distributions of the micelles in dilute, aqueous solutions, with and without drugs, are ascertained using cryo- Scanning Electron Microscopy and Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) experiments, respectively. Uptake of drugs above a threshold concentration is seen to reduce the critical micellization temperature of the solution. The mean hydrodynamic radii and polydispersities of the micelles are found to increase with decrease in temperature and in the presence of drug molecules. The hydration of the micellar core at lower temperatures is verified using fluorescence measurements. Increasing solution pH leads to the ionization of the drugs incorporated in the micellar cores. This causes rupture of the micelles and release of the drugs into the solution at the highest solution pH value of 11.36 investigated here and is studied using DLS and fluorescence spectrocopy.

Abstract:
When calcium salts are added to an aqueous solution of polysaccharide pectin, ionic cross-links form between pectin chains, giving rise to a gel network in dilute solution. In this work, dynamic light scattering (DLS) is employed to study the microscopic dynamics of the fractal aggregates (flocs) that constitute the gels, while rheological measurements are performed to study the process of gel rupture. As calcium salt concentration is increased, DLS experiments reveal that the polydispersities of the flocs increase simultaneously with the characteristic relaxation times of the gel network. Above a critical salt concentration, the flocs become interlinked to form a reaction-limited fractal gel network. Rheological studies demonstrate that the limits of the linear rheological response and the critical stresses required to rupture these networks both decrease with increase in salt concentration. These features indicate that the ion-mediated pectin gels studied here lie in a `strong link' regime that is characterised by inter-floc links that are stronger than intra-floc links. A scaling analysis of the experimental data presented here demonstrates that the elasticities of the individual fractal flocs exhibit power-law dependences on the added salt concentration. We conclude that when pectin and salt concentrations are both increased, the number of fractal flocs of pectin increases simultaneously with the density of crosslinks, giving rise to very large values of the bulk elastic modulus.

Abstract:
Na-montmorillonite is a natural clay mineral and is available in abundance in nature. The aqueous dispersions of charged and anisotropic platelets of this mineral exhibit non-ergodic kinetically arrested states ranging from soft glassy phases dominated by interparticle repulsions to colloidal gels stabilized by salt induced attractive interactions. When the salt concentration in the dispersing medium is varied systematically, viscoelasticity and yield stress of the dispersion show non-monotonic behavior at a critical salt concentration, thus signifying a morphological change in the dispersion microstructures. We directly visualize the microscopic structures of these kinetically arrested phases using cryogenic scanning electron microscopy. We observe the existence of honeycomb-like network morphologies for a wide range of salt concentrations. The transition of the gel morphology, dominated by overlapping coin (OC) and house of cards (HoC) associations of clay particles at low salt concentrations to a new network structure dominated by face-face coagulation of platelets, is observed across the critical salt concentration. We further assess the stability of these gels under gravity using electroacoustics. This study, performed for concentrated clay dispersions for a wide concentration range of externally added salt, is useful in our understanding of many geophysical phenomena that involve the salt induced aggregation of natural clay minerals.

Abstract:
Synperonic F-108 (generic name, 'pluronic') is a micelle forming triblock copolymer of type ABA, where A is polyethylene oxide (PEO) and B is polypropylene oxide (PPO). At high temperatures, the hydrophobicity of the PPO chains increase, and the pluronic molecules, when dissolved in an aqueous medium, self-associate into spherical micelles with dense PPO cores and hydrated PEO coronas. At appropriately high concentrations, these micelles arrange in a face centred cubic lattice to show inverse crystallization, with the samples exhibiting high-temperature crystalline and low-temperature fluidlike phases. By studying the evolution of the elastic and viscous moduli as temperature is increased at a fixed rate, we construct the concentration-temperature phase diagram of Synperonic F-108. For a certain range of temperatures and at appropriate sample concentrations, we observe a predominantly elastic response. Oscillatory strain amplitude sweep measurements on these samples show pronounced peaks in the loss moduli, a typical feature of soft solids. The soft solid-like nature of these materials is further demonstrated by measuring their frequency dependent mechanical moduli. The storage moduli are significantly larger than the loss moduli and are almost independent of the applied angular frequency. Finally, we perform strain rate frequency superposition (SRFS) experiments to measure the slow relaxation dynamics of this soft solid.

Abstract:
Several surfactant molecules self-assemble in solution to form long, flexible wormlike micelles which get entangled with each other, leading to viscoelastic gel phases. We discuss our recent work on the rheology of such a gel formed in the dilute aqueous solutions of a surfactant CTAT. In the linear rheology regime, the storage modulus $G^{\prime}(\omega)$ and loss modulus $G^{\prime\prime}(\omega)$ have been measured over a wide frequency range. In the nonlinear regime, the shear stress $\sigma$ shows a plateau as a function of the shear rate $\dot\gamma$ above a certain cutoff shear rate $\dot\gamma_c$. Under controlled shear rate conditions in the plateau regime, the shear stress and the first normal stress difference show oscillatory time-dependence. The analysis of the measured time series of shear stress and normal stress has been done using several methods incorporating state space reconstruction by embedding of time delay vectors.The analysis shows the existence of a finite correlation dimension and a positive Lyapunov exponent, unambiguously implying that the dynamics of the observed mechanical instability can be described by that of a dynamical system with a strange attractor of dimension varying from 2.4 to 2.9.

Abstract:
We report our studies of the linear and nonlinear rheology of aqueous solutions of the surfactant cetyl trimethylammonium tosylate (CTAT) with varying amounts of sodium chloride (NaCl). The CTAT concentration is fixed at 42mM and the salt concentration is varied between 0mM to 120mM. On increasing the salt (NaCl) concentration, we see three distinct regimes in the zero-shear viscosity and the high frequency plateau modulus data. In regime I, the zero-shear viscosity shows a weak increase with salt concentration due to enhanced micellar growth. The decrease in the zero-shear viscosities with salt concentration in regimes I I and III can be explained in terms of inter-micellar branching. The most intriguing feature of our data however, is the anomalous behavior of the high frequency plateau modulus in regime II (0.12 $\le \frac{[NaCl]}{[CTAT]} \le$ 1. 42). In this regime, the plateau modulus {\it increases} with an increase in NaCl concentration. This is highly counter-intuitive, since the correlation length of concentration fluctuations and hence the plateau modulus $G_{\circ}$ are not expected to change appreciably in the semi-dilute regime. We propose to explain the changes in regime II in terms of the unbinding of the organic counterions (tosylate) from the CTA$^{+}$ surfaces on the addition of NaCl. In the nonlinear flow curves of the samples with high salt content, significant deviations from the predictions of the Giesekus model for entangled micelles are observed.

Abstract:
We report the observation of dynamical behaviour in dilute, aqueous solutions of a surfactant CTAT (cetyl trimethylammonium p-toluenesulphonate), below the overlap concentration c$^{\star}$. At these concentrations, CTAT forms cylindrical micelles and shows a pronounced shear thickening transition above a concentration-dependent critical shear rate $\dot\gamma_{c}$. An analysis of the time-series of the stress relaxations at controlled shear rates in the shear-thickening regime shows the existence of correlation dimensions greater than two and positive Lyapunov exponents. This indicates the existence of deterministic chaos in the dynamics of stress relaxation at these concentrations and shear rates. The observed chaotic behaviour may be attributed to the stick-slip between the shear - induced structure (SIS) formed in the sheared surfactant solution and the coexisting dilute phase. At still higher shear rates, when the SIS spans the Couette, there is a transition to higher-dimensional dynamics arising out of the breakage and recombination of the SIS.

Abstract:
We study the rheology of semi-dilute solutions of the sodium salt of calf-thymus DNA in the linear and nonlinear regimes. The frequency response data can be fitted very well to the hybrid model with two dominant relaxation times $\tau_{\circ}$ and $\tau_{1}$. The ratio $\frac{\tau_{\circ}}{\tau_{1}} \sim$ 5 is seen to be fairly constant on changing the temperature from 20$^{\circ}$C to 30$^{\circ}$C. The shear rate dependence of viscosity can be fitted to the Carreau model.