In situ viscosity measurement of confined liquids
The viscosity of liquids governs crucial physical and engineering phenomena, ranging from diffusion and transport processes of nutrients and chemicals, to the generation of friction and the physics of damping. Engineering fluids frequently experience local conditions that change their bulk rheological properties. While viscosity data can easily be acquired using conventional rheometers, the results are not always applicable to fluids under engineering conditions. This is particularly the case for fluids being sheared at high pressure under severe confinement, which experience very high shear stresses and often show extensive shear thinning. There is a lack of suitable methods for measuring fluid viscosity under such conditions. This work describes a novel in situ viscosity measurement technique to fill this gap. It involves the quantification of the fluorescence lifetime of a fluorescent dye that is sensitive to viscosity. The capability of the developed technique is verified by taking measurements in submicron thick films of two model fluids confined in a ball on flat contact. Viscosity measurements were successfully performed at pressures up to 1.2 GPa and shear rates up to 105 s−1. Spatial heterogeneity in viscosity caused by variations in pressure within the thin fluid film could be observed using the technique. It was also possible to detect differences in the rheological responses of a Newtonian and a non-Newtonian fluid. These first in situ high pressure, high shear viscosity measurements demonstrate the versatility of the proposed technique in providing information on the viscosity in conditions where contemporary techniques are insufficient. More importantly it highlights the complexity of the rheology of engineering fluids and provides a means of verifying existing theories by performing in situ measurements. Information on local viscosity is crucial for understanding the physics of confined fluids and to facilitate improvements in engineering technology.