Structural anisotropy of directionally dried colloids


Aqueous colloidal dispersions of silica particles become anisotropic when they are dried through evaporation. This anisotropy is generated by a uniaxial strain of the liquid dispersions as they are compressed by the flow of water toward a solidification front. Part of the strain produced by the compression is relaxed, and part of it is stored and transferred to the solid. This stored elastic strain has consequences for the properties of the solid, where it may facilitate the growth of shear bands, and generate birefringence.