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Irreversible hardening of a colloidal gel under shear: The smart response of natural rubber latex gels

De Oliveira Reis G., Gibaud T., Saint-Michel B., Manneville S., Leocmach M., Vaysse L., Bonfils F., Sanchez C., Menut P.. 2019. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 539 : p. 287-296.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jcis.2018.12.031

Natural rubber is obtained by processing natural rubber latex, a liquid colloidal suspension that rapidly gels after exudation from the tree. We prepared such gels by acidification, in a large range of particle volume fractions, and investigated their rheological properties. We show that natural rubber latex gels exhibit a unique behavior of irreversible strain hardening: when subjected to a large enough strain, the elastic modulus increases irreversibly. Hardening proceeds over a large range of deformations in such a way that the material maintains an elastic modulus close to, or slightly higher than the imposed shear stress. Local displacements inside the gel are investigated by ultrasound imaging coupled to oscillatory rheometry, together with a Fourier decomposition of the oscillatory response of the material during hardening. Our observations suggest that hardening is associated with irreversible local rearrangements of the fractal structure, which occur homogeneously throughout the sample.

Mots-clés : hevea brasiliensis; latex; caoutchouc; gel; propriété rhéologique

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