Complex fluids at interfaces and interfaces of complex fluids
Nouri Dariani, Mariam
Chapman, Walter G
Doctor of Philosophy
The present thesis deals with two independent projects and is consequently divided into two parts. The first part details a computational study of the fluid structure of ring-shaped molecules and their positional and orientational molecular organizations in different degrees of confinement, while the second part concerns an experimental study of phase behavior and interfacial phenomena in confined colloid-polymer systems. In the first part, ring-shaped molecules are studied using Monte Carlo simulation techniques in one, two and three dimensions. The model used to describe ring-shaped molecules is composed of hard-spheres linked together to form planar rigid rings. For rings of various sizes and for a wide range of densities, positional and orientational orderings are reported in forms of pair distribution functions of the ring centers and correlation functions of the ring normal orientations. Special emphasis is given to understand structural formation at interfaces, i.e., the structure and orderings of these molecules when they are confined to two dimensions. In a plane but the rings themselves are free to rotate around all axes, nematic ordering is observed at sufficiently high densities. In the second part, phase equilibria of confined aqueous colloid-polymer systems are studied experimentally using fluorescence microscopy. Aqueous mixtures of fluorescent polystyrene spheres and polyacrylamide are confined between a glass slide and a coverslip. The phase diagram is determined as a function of the colloidal and polymer concentrations. Liquid-liquid phase coexistence between a colloid-rich phase and a polymer-rich phase occurs at intermediate polymer concentrations, while liquid-solid phase coexistence between a polymer-rich liquid and a colloid-rich solid is observed at high polymer concentrations. Interfacial thickness and tension of the interface between these coexisting phases are measured using image analysis techniques. It is also observed that the colloid-rich solid and liquid domains coarsen mainly by Ostwald ripening.