Polymer Engineering Faculty Research

Rheo-Optical Behavior of Binary Polymer Blends: The Effect of Simple Shear Flow on Phase Behavior

Z. J. Chen
R. J. Wu
M. T. Shaw
Robert Weiss, The University of Akron
M. L. Fernandez
J. S. Higgins


The phase behavior of polymer blends under simple shear flow has been studied using a custom-designed rheo-optical system consisting of a two-dimensional small-angle light scattering (SALS) device incorporated into a conventional rheometer. Two-dimensional SALS images were gathered for model polymer blend systems with different quiescent phase behavior: polystyrene/polyisobutylene (PS/PIB) that exhibits upper critical solution temperature phase behavior and polystyrene/poly(vinyl methyl ether) (PS/PVME) that shows lower critical solution temperature phase behavior. For the PS/PIB blend, shear-induced phase mixing occurred at a critical shear rate. Below that critical shear rate, the dispersed phase was highly elongated parallel to the flow direction. For PS/PVME blends, a streak scattering pattern was observed even though the sample became optically clear after shearing. We observed, apparently for the first time, the development of a bright-streak pattern from a transient dark-streak pattern for a polymer blend system under shear. Rheo-microscopy studies revealed an intriguing wave pattern that developed coincident with the observation of a streak pattern by SALS. The relationship between the two phenomena has not yet been established.