Structural and mechanical properties of dried colloidal silica layers

Abstract : Drying a colloidal suspension results in the formation of a more or less porous solid layer. This procedure is central to many applications such as sol-gel processes, the design of paints and lacquers... As the solvent evaporation induces shrinkage of the material, large stresses can develop in these layers, making them prone to fracture. A crucial challenge is thus to understand the role of the control parameters, such as drying rate, film thickness and particle size, on the structural and mechanical properties of the final layer. In this thesis work, Ludox (colloidal silica) was used as a model system to study the effect of the drying rate on the structural and mechanical properties of the resultant solid. The effect of the drying rate on the structural properties of the dry layers was studied using porosity measurements as well as atomic force microscopy and small-angle X-ray scattering. We could evidence the importance of initial suspension dispersity and particle aggregation on the structure of the dry layers. Using ultrasound measurements, we determined the tensorial elasticity (bulk and shear moduli) of the dry layers. The elastic moduli can be related to the material porosity and the particle size. Thus, the experimental data was used to test several homogeneization schemes (Mori-Tanaka and self-consistent) as well as Kendall's model for the Young’s modulus, which considers the effect of adhesive forces between particles. Finally, hardness and fracture toughness of the materials were inferred from Vickers indentation tests. The fracture properties of the layers in their dry, final state were related to their packing fraction, the evaporation rate, and the density of the cracks formed during the desiccation process.
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Arnaud Lesaine. Structural and mechanical properties of dried colloidal silica layers. Mechanics of materials [physics.class-ph]. Université Paris-Saclay, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018SACLS597⟩. ⟨tel-02095393v2⟩

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