Climate change has exacerbated extreme weather events, which result in huge loss of human life and infrastructure. As the frequency of once-in-a-century catastrophies grow, the top soil of the earth becomes more vulnerable to extreme forcing conditions.
From a materials engineering perspective, earth’s surface is composed of diverse array of fluid-particulate mixtures, with its constituent particles ranging in length scales spanning four orders of magnitude. Moreover, the particles themselves are extremely complex in nature exhibiting size polydispersity, varied fluid-particle interations, and inherent particle moduli. Macroscopic failure of earth occurs as a results of system-spanning percolations of local collective reorganization of these diverse constituent materials during a natural event - a classic soft matter property. My research is focused on the intersection of soft materials and environment to engineer desired mechanical properties in soil suspension mixtures.
The main research goal is to identify current challenges in geophysics and apply concepts from soft matter physics to solve them. I employ rheometry (plate, couette, and inclined plane) and optical (microscopy and scattering) techniques to probe and study the following research questions in the area of soft earth geophysics:
Can dense suspension rheology help predict mudslides better?
What are the various modes of subaqueous sediments collapse in ocean floors?
What rheological state diagrams define model mud suspension flow under steady shear?
My past research was focussed on trying to elucidate the effects of colloidal anisotropy on the linear and non-linear rheological properties of dense suspensions. The aim was to understand the difference in the structure-property relationship in suspensions that comprise of colloidal particles with varying surface roughness. Using stress-controlled rheometry, confocal microscopy, and concepts from granular physics, I studied three important questions in area of dense colloidal suspensions.
When do colloidal particles contact in dense suspensions?
What inherent property makes “Oobleck fluids” shear thicken?
Can we make engineer colloidal particles to enhance “solid-like” properties in dense suspensions?