Characterization of transient rheological behavior of soft materials using ferrofluid droplets

D. Azarkh, M. Geiger, S.H. Jung, E. Noetzel, R. Merkel, A. Pich, U. Schnakenberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Physical material properties, such as elasticity, viscosity, or viscoelasticity, can be characterized by using rheometers or stick-type solenoid electromagnets. In this work, we developed a magnet measurement setup based on a Helmholtz arrangement of electromagnets. While applying homogeneous magnet fields to ferrofluid droplets inside a soft material of interest, the deformations of the ellipsoidal deformed droplets were measured. Kelvin-Voigt models and corresponding analytical descriptions were used to calculate the values of viscosity and Young's modulus of materials under test. For calibration purposes of the developed setup, glycerin/water mixtures and methylcellulose/water solutions were characterized as viscous and polyacrylamide gels as elastic materials, respectively. In addition, the interfacial tensions were calculated with respect to the magnetic Bond number from the droplet deformations. For the first time, the transient rheological behavior of viscoelastic material was measured using the method of ferrofluid droplet deformation. When polyacrylamide gel with a shear modulus of 230 Pa was evacuated for less than 40 min during preparation, it showed a strong time-depending viscoelastic behavior several minutes after starting the measurements. Here, Young's modulus increased up to the value of elastic behavior, whereas the values for viscosity decreased to a baseline. The developed setup can favorably be used in future applications to investigate local and also time-dependent rheological properties of soft materials.
Original languageEnglish
Article number113756
Number of pages9
JournalSensors and Actuators A-Physical
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


  • Ferrofluid droplet
  • Rheology
  • Viscoelasticity
  • Polyacrylamide
  • Magnetic Bond number
  • Interfacial tension
  • FLOW
  • PUMP


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