The rheology and shear-induced structures of a series of self-assembled surfactant wormlike micelles (WLMs) with varying levels of branching are measured using rheo- and flow-small angle neutron scattering (SANS). The degree of branching in the mixed cationic/anionic surfactant (cetyltrimethylammonium tosylate/sodium dodecyl benzene sulfonate) WLMs is controlled via the addition of the hydrotropic salt sodium tosylate and verified by cryo-transmission electron microscopy. The linear viscoelasticity of the low salt (linear) micellar solutions is well described as an extended Maxwell (Oldroyd-B) fluid, and samples exhibit shear banding under steady-shear flow. The linear viscoelasticity of more highly branched solutions deviates from Maxwellian behavior, where the plateau in G′ gradually increases in slope with increasing salt content. The higher salt solutions exhibit a shear thinning regime, followed by a shear thickening regime at high shear rates. Micelle segmental alignment in the flow-gradient plane is a nonmonotonic function of salt level and radial position. Spatially resolved measurements of the segmental alignment corroborate shear banding in the linear WLMs, and the absence of shear banding with branching. Rheo-SANS measurements show that the onset of shear thickening at high rates corresponds to a structural transition. The results of this study link micellar microstructure and topology to the measured shear rheology of WLM solutions.
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© 2015 The Society of Rheology, Inc.