Nonlinear Elasticity of Flow-Stabilized Solids
Published 2014-01-08, updated 2014-07-20Version 2
Thermal fluctuations, geometric exclusion, and external driving all govern the mechanical response of dense particulate suspensions. Here, we measure the stress-strain response of quasi-two-dimensional flow-stabilized microsphere heaps in a regime in which all three effects are present using a microfluidic device. We observe that the elastic modulus and the mean interparticle separation of the heaps are tunable via the confining stress provided by the fluid flow. Furthermore, the measured stress-strain curves exhibit a universal nonlinear shape which can be predicted from a thermal van der Waals equation of state with excluded volume. This analysis indicates that many-body interactions contribute a significant fraction of the stress supported by the heap.