Review of Scientific Instruments vol:82 issue:3 pages:035121
A new generation of the “flexure based microgap rheometer” (FMR) has been developed which is also capable of measuring, in addition to the shear stress, the first normal stress difference of micrometer thin fluid films. This microgap rheometer with a translation system based on compound spring flexures measures the rheological properties of microliter samples of complex fluids confined in a plane couette configuration with gap distances of h = 1 – 400 µm up to shear rates of 3000 s-1. Feed back loop controlled precise positioning of the shearing surfaces with response times < 1 ms enables to control the parallelism within 1.5 µrad and to maintain the gap distance within 20 nm. This precise gap control minimizes squeeze flow effects and allows therefore to measure the first normal stress difference N1 of the thin film down to a micrometer gap distance, with a lower limit of ... that depends on the shear viscosity η and the squared inverse gap. Structural development of complex fluids in the confinement can be visualized by using a beam splitter on the shearing surface and a long working distance microscope. In summary, this new instrument allows to investigate the confinement dependent rheological and morphological evolution of micrometer thin films.