i-Rheo: determining the linear viscoelastic moduli of colloidal dispersions from step-stress measurements
We report on the application of a Fourier transform-based method, ‘i-Rheo’, to evaluate the linear viscoelastic moduli of hard-sphere colloidal dispersions, both in the fluid and glass states, from a direct analysis of raw step-stress (creep) experimental data. We corroborate the efficacy of i-Rheo by comparing the outputs of creep tests performed on homogenous complex fluids to conventional dynamic frequency sweeps. A similar approach is adopted for a number of colloidal suspensions over a broad range of volume fractions. For these systems, we test the limits of the method by varying the applied stress across the materials' linear and non-linear viscoelastic regimes, and we show that the best results are achieved for stress values close to the upper limit of the materials' linear viscoelastic regime, where the signal-to-noise ratio is at its highest and the non-linear phenomena have not appeared yet. We record that, the range of accessible frequencies is controlled at the higher end by the relative weight between the inertia of the instrument and the elasticity of the complex material under investigation; whereas, the lowest accessible frequency is dictated by the extent of the materials' linear viscoelastic regime. Nonetheless, despite these constrains, we confirm the effectiveness of i-Rheo for gaining valuable information on the materials' linear viscoelastic properties even from ‘creep ringing’ data, confirming its potency and general validity as an accurate method for determining the material's rheological behaviour for a variety of complex systems.