Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Rheology 53:5 (September/October 2009), pp. 1229-1254; DOI: 10.1122/1.3164970 Copyright © 2009 The Society of Rheology; published by the American Institute of Physics. Used by permission.


Transient structure development at a specific distance from the channel wall in a pressure-driven flow is obtained from a set of real-time measurements that integrate contributions throughout the thickness of a rectangular channel. This “depth sectioning method” retains the advantages of pressure-driven flow while revealing flow-induced structures as a function of stress. The method is illustrated by applying it to isothermal shear-induced crystallization of an isotactic polypropylene using both synchrotron x-ray scattering and optical retardance. Real-time, depth-resolved information about the development of oriented precursors reveals features that cannot be extracted from ex-situ observation of the final morphology and that are obscured in the depth-averaged in-situ measurements. For example, at 137 °C and at the highest shear stress examined (65 kPa), oriented thread-like nuclei formed rapidly, saturated within the first 7 s of flow, developed significant crystalline overgrowth during flow and did not relax after cessation of shear. At lower stresses, threads formed later and increased at a slower rate. The depth sectioning method can be applied to the flow-induced structure development in diverse complex fluids, including block copolymers, colloidal systems, and liquid-crystalline polymers.