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Shear banding in soft glassy materials

Fielding, Suzanne M.

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Many soft materials, including microgels, dense colloidal emulsions, star polymers, dense packings of multilamellar vesicles, and textured morphologies of liquid crystals, share the basic 'glassy' features of structural disorder and metastability. These in turn give rise to several notable features in the low frequency shear rheology (deformation and flow properties) of these materials: in particular, the existence of a yield stress below which the material behaves like a solid, and above which it flows like a liquid. In the last decade, intense experimental activity has also revealed that these materials often display a phenomenon known as shear banding, in which the flow profile across the shear cell exhibits macroscopic bands of different viscosity. Two distinct classes of yield stress fluid have been identified: those in which the shear bands apparently persist permanently (for as long as the flow remains applied), and those in which banding arises only transiently during a process in which a steady flowing state is established out of an initial rest state (for example, in a shear startup or step stress experiment). Despite being technically transient, such bands may in practice persist for a very long time and so be mistaken for the true steady state response of the material in experimental practice. After surveying the motivating experimental data, we describe recent progress in addressing it theoretically, using the soft glassy rheology model and a simple fluidity model. We also briefly place these theoretical approaches in the context of others in the literature, including elasto-plastic models, shear transformation zone theories, and molecular dynamics simulations. We discuss finally some challenges that remain open to theory and experiment alike.


Fielding, S. M. (2014). Shear banding in soft glassy materials. Reports on Progress in Physics, 77(10),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 1, 2015
Publication Date Oct 1, 2014
Deposit Date May 1, 2015
Publicly Available Date May 5, 2015
Journal Reports on Progress in Physics
Print ISSN 0034-4885
Electronic ISSN 1361-6633
Publisher IOP Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 77
Issue 10
Keywords Soft matter, liquids and polymers, Fluid dynamics


Accepted Journal Article (512 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is an author-created, un-copyedited version of an article published in Reports on progress in physics. IOP Publishing Ltd is not responsible for any errors or omissions in this version of the manuscript or any version derived from it. The Version of Record is available online at

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