Molecular orientation and rheology in sheared lyotropic liquid crystalline polymers

Wesley Roth Burghardt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


This article summarizes recent experiments relating measurements of molecular orientation to bulk rheological behavior in liquid crystalline polymers (LCPs) under shear. The principal experimental techniques are flow birefringence and x-ray scattering. Since LCPs usually exhibit a "polydomain" texture, measurements of flow-induced orientation reflect both the local distribution of molecular orientation around the director and the heterogeneous distribution of director orientations in the sheared LCP. In model lyotropic solutions of poly(benzyl glutamate) (PBG) and hydroxypropylcellulose (HPC), there are clear structural signatures of a transition from director tumbling dynamics at low Deborah number to flow alignment at high Deborah number. Rheo-optical measurements of the full refractive index tensor in PBG allow the orientation predictions of microstructural theories for LCP rheology to be quantitatively tested. At low shear rates the two model materials differ: PBG solutions exhibit significant orientation, while HPC solutions show little orientation. This is correlated with the presence of so-called "Region I" shear thinning in HPC solutions. Conversely, in PBG solutions of high concentration, x-ray scattering measurements demonstrate that Region I arises from the presence of a hexagonal phase. The model systems are further differentiated in relaxation. Molecular orientation increases in PBG solutions, but decreases in HPC solutions upon flow cessation; these differences are manifested in the evolution of dynamic properties. Finally, structural investigations of a PBG solution and a nematic surfactant solution during step changes in shear conditions are used to interrogate tumbling dynamics at low shear rates and test microstructural tumbling models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)471-488
Number of pages18
JournalMacromolecular Chemistry and Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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