Flow of clays
1 Department of Physics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), 7491 Trondheim, Norway
2 (2011-12) Centre for Advanced Study (CAS) at the Norwegian Academy for Science and Letters, Drammensvegen 78, 0271 Oslo, Norway
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Revised: 22 February 2012
Published online: 17 April 2012
Recent experimental and theoretical research into physical phenomena in clays is reviewed. Clays’ present place in the context of modern materials science is briefly discussed, and illustrated through the rich behavior recently displayed in this physical model system. We will show that in order to understand macroscopic flow behaviors in these systems, it is crucial to know the underlying nanostructures in detail. With the clay nanostructural basis at hand, we will review recent advances in clay systems from the geological example of quick clay flows and avalanches, to materials science and the stability, strength and flow of smart electrorheological clay structures. In the case of natural quick clay, there is now hope of establishing a protocol for avalanche preditction based on rheological sample data. In materials science, the use of electric fields together with flow in order to improve the processing of clay composite materials may open new unexplored avenues. We will finally discuss that due to the interplay of van der Waals and electrostatic forces screened by ions at the nanoscale, clays may either form a glass, or a gel and thus give fundamental insights into the elusive questions related to materials universal aging flow dynamics.
© EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag, 2012