Monday, July 8, 2013

1307.1518 (Hajime Tanaka)

Phase Separation in Soft Matter: Concept of Dynamic Asymmetry    [PDF]

Hajime Tanaka
Phase separation is a fundamental phenomenon that produces spatially heterogeneous patterns in soft matter. In this Lecture Note we show that phase separation in these materials generally belongs to what we call "viscoelastic phase separation", where the morphology is determined by the mechanical balance of not only the thermodynamic force (interface tension) but also the viscoelastic force. The origin of the viscoelastic force is dynamic asymmetry between the components of a mixture, which can be caused by either a size disparity or a difference in the glass transition temperature between the components. We stress that such dynamic asymmetry generally exists in soft matter. The key is that dynamical asymmetry leads to a non-trivial coupling between the concentration, velocity, and stress fields. Viscoelastic phase separation can be explained by viscoelastic relaxation in pattern evolution and the resulting switching of the relevant order parameter, which are induced by the competition between the deformation rate of phase separation and the slowest mechanical relaxation rate of a system. We also discuss an intimate link of viscoelastic phase separation, where deformation fields are spontaneously generated by phase separation itself, to mechanical instability (or fracture) of glassy material, which is induced by externally imposed strain fields. We propose that all these phenomena can be understood as mechanically-driven inhomogeneization in a unified manner.
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