Journal of rheology vol:45 issue:4 pages:1007-1019
A block copolymer may be added as a compatibilizer during polymer processing in order to promote intimate mixing of thermodynamically immiscible homopolymers. The action of this compatibilizer can only partially be attributed to its effect on the interfacial tension between the immiscible homopolymers. Here the additional contributions of the compatibilizer are directly probed by measuring the capillary number during coalescence experiments. Model blends consisting of polyisobutylene (PIB) and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), compatibilized with various amounts of a PLB-PDMS diblock copolymer, are used for this purpose. The mean capillary number of the droplets is determined from the mechanical frequency response of the blends. With increasing amounts of compatibilizer, a systematic increase in steady shear capillary number is seen, to values well above the critical capillary number for droplet breakup of uncompatibilized systems. This indicates that a simple decrease in interfacial tension is not the only effect of adding the compatibilizer to these immiscible blends. Past simulations suggest that these results are associated with gradients in interfacial tension (Marangoni stresses) induced by the gradients of compatibilizer concentration due to flow. Direct evidence of the presence of such interfacial tension gradients along the surface of compatibilized drops was obtained by optical microscopy. (C) 2001 The Society of Rheology.