Complex fluids and Soft Matter

Complex fluids are multiphase systems comprising of a continuous phase and a dispersed phase. Typical examples include polymer solutions and melts, colloidal suspensions, emulsions, foam, etc. Many food items, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics involve complex fluids during their processing or in their end product. Due to the presence of a dispersed phase, whose length scale is large compared to molecular scales, the structure and flow behaviour of complex fluids are dramatically different from simple (Newtonian) fluids, such as water and air.

At IIT Kanpur, the Department of Chemical Engineering focuses on a diverse class of problems spanning both fundamental and application aspects of complex fluid behaviour. An ongoing work in this area is on thixotropic and soft-glassy rheology with applications aimed at processing of pasty materials in fertilizer, food, and consumer goods industries. Another emphasis has been to elucidate the role of non-Newtonian rheology on the transition from laminar to turbulent flow states in the flow of polymer solutions. Similarly, an ongoing work aims to understand the transport of complex fluids in porous media for energy and environment applications. Department is also venturing in exploring soft materials based on polymeric elastomers tailored with microstructures to form novel adhesives with potential application in healthcare. A recent interest is in Active colloids/emulsions, wherein, the dispersed phase colloids/droplets undergo spontaneous, yet directed motion via self-propulsion. These systems serve as model systems to understand the dynamics of several biological processes and carry futuristic application in biomedicine and environmental remediation. Our department utilizes state-of-the-art experimental techniques and analytical techniques (theory and simulations) to venture into these diverse problems related to polymers and complex fluids.

List of Faculty working in this area