C. Clavaud, A. Bérut, B. Metzger, Y. Forterre "Revealing the frictional transition in shear-thickening suspensions" PNAS 114, 5147-5152 (2017)


Shear thickening in dense particulate suspensions was recently proposed to be driven by the activation of friction above an onset stress needed to overcome repulsive forces between particles. Testing this scenario represents a major challenge because classical rheological approaches do not provide access to the frictional properties of suspensions. Here we adopt a different strategy inspired by pressure-imposed configurations in granular flows that specifically gives access to this information. By investigating the quasi-static avalanche angle, compaction, and dilatancy effects in different nonbuoyant suspensions flowing under gravity, we demonstrate that particles in shear-thickening suspensions are frictionless under low confining pressure. Moreover, we show that tuning the range of the repulsive force below the particle roughness suppresses the frictionless state and also the shear-thickening behavior of the suspension. These results, which link microscopic contact physics to the suspension macroscopic rheology, provide direct evidence that the recent frictional transition scenario applies in real suspensions.

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