Stability of creeping Couette flow of a power-law fluid past a deformable solid

Scott A. Roberts, Satish Kumar

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14 Scopus citations


The stability of plane Couette flow of a power-law fluid past a deformable solid of finite thickness is considered in this work. The solid is a neo-Hookean or linear elastic material which is incompressible and impermeable to the fluid, and linear stability analysis is applied in the creeping-flow limit. Four key dimensionless parameters govern the problem: an imposed shear rate, a solid-to-fluid thickness ratio, an interfacial tension, and a power-law index. The neo-Hookean solid exhibits a first normal stress difference, not present in linear elastic solids, which is strongly coupled to the imposed shear rate and the power-law index. For large thickness ratios, H ≫ 1, the shear rate necessary to induce an instability, γc, scales as γc ∼ H- 1 / n, where n is the power-law index. This scaling can be understood in terms of a simple balance between viscous shear stresses in the fluid and elastic shear stresses in the solid. For small thickness ratios, shear-thinning has a stabilizing effect, in contrast to what is observed for thick solids. Whereas a shortwave instability is always observed with Newtonian fluids and neo-Hookean solids when interfacial tension is absent, it can be suppressed with power-law fluids for certain values of n. These results are potentially of interest for enhancing mixing in microfluidic devices and understanding the rheology of worm-like micelle solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-102
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 15 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported in part by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.S. Army Research Office under Grant No. W911NF-04-1-0265. Acknowledgment is made to the Donors of The American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund for partial support of this research.


  • Creeping flow
  • Deformable solids
  • Interfacial instability
  • Linear stability analysis
  • Shear-thinning fluids


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