A magnetic microrheometer has been designed to characterize the local viscosity of liquid-applied coatings in situ during solidification. The apparatus includes NdFeB magnets mounted on computer-controlled micropositioners for the manipulation of ∼1 μm diameter superparamagnetic particles in the coating. Magnetic field gradients at 20-70 T/m are generated by changing magnet size and the gap distance between the magnets. A specimen stage located between two magnets is outfitted with a heater and channels to control process conditions (temperature and air flow), and a digital optical microscope lens above the stage is used to monitor the probe particle position. Validation studies with glycerol and polyimide precursor solution showed that microrheometry results match traditional bulk rheometry within an error of 5%. The viscosities of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) solution and polyimide precursor solution coatings were measured at different shear rates (0.01-5 s-1) by adjusting the magnetic field gradient. The effect of proximity to the substrate on the particle motion was characterized and compared with theoretical predictions. The magnetic microrheometer was used to characterize the time-viscosity profile of PVA coatings during drying at several temperatures. The viscosity range measured by the apparatus was 0.1-20 Pa s during drying of coatings at temperatures between room temperature and 80 °C.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank the industrial supporters of the Coating Process Fundamentals Program of the Industrial Partnership for Research in Interfacial and Materials Engineering (IPRIME) for supporting this research and Hutchinson Technology for supporting R. Henry's work as IPRIME Industrial Fellow. Acknowledgments also go to W. Suszynski for helpful discussions, and L. Ashwill, T. Maday, and M. Christiansen from Hutchinson Technology for their technical assistance.