Kinetics of shear banding flow formation in linear and branched wormlike micelles†
We investigate the flow evolution of a linear and a branched wormlike micellar solution with matched rheology in a Taylor–Couette (TC) cell using a combination of particle-tracking velocimetry, birefringence, and turbidity measurements. Both solutions exhibit a stress plateau within a range of shear rates. Under startup of a steady shear rate flow within the stress plateau, both linear and branched samples exhibit strong transient shear thinning flow profiles. However, while the flow of the linear solution evolves to a banded structure at longer times, the flow of the branched solution transitions to a curved velocity profile with no evidence of shear banding. Flow-induced birefringence measurements indicate transient birefringence banding with strong micellar alignment in the high shear band for the linear solution. The transient flow-induced birefringence is stronger for the branched system at an otherwise identical Wi. At longer times, the birefringence bands are replaced by a chaotic flow reminiscent of elastic instabilities. Visualization of the flow-induced turbidity in the velocity gradient-vorticity plane reveals quasi-steady banding with a turbidity contrast between high and low shear bands in the linear solution. However, the turbidity evolves uniformly within the gap of the TC cell for the branched solution, corroborating the non-banded quasi-steady velocimetry results. Finally, we show that while elastic instabilities in the linear solution emerge in the high shear band, the flow of branched solution at high Wi becomes unstable due to end effects, with growing end regions that ultimately span the entire axial length of the TC cell.