Rheo-SANS: Structure-Property Relationships via Simultaneous Rheology and SANS
Significant advances in our knowledge of micro and nanostructured materials have been achieved through in situ experiments that combine small angle neutron scattering (SANS) with a deformation field. However, most studies are performed as steady flow-SANS, where SANS is performed in a flow cell and separate rheological experiments are performed in a different laboratory and the results compared. The purpose of this research is to develop and deploy a robust, user friendly, state of the art rheo-SANS sample environment with time-resolved SANS for investigation of the time-dependent and steady state structure-property relations in flowing soft matter and complex fluids. The proposed device will be capable of simultaneous probing of the time-dependent shear rheology and material microstructure in all three orthonormal projections of the flow direction.
A proposed application is low viscosity-high conductivity nanoparticle suspensions for flow batteries. Flow batteries are a promising technology for energy storage because they decouple the electrode size from the storage capacity; however, their efficiency is severely limited by the rheology, energy density and stability of the working fluids. Using nanoscale engineering, the performance trade-offs of the working fluid can be tuned to only low viscosity, high conductivity, and high storage nanoparticle suspensions. By engineering a polyelectrolyte stabilizing layer on the nanoparticle suspension, the desired electrical conductivity network and enhanced nanoparticle stability (and thus reduced viscosity) can be achieved.