It’s Day 4 of the International Congress of Rheology in Portugal and so far it’s been a busy schedule with 11 sessions running in parallel with 2 daily poster sessions sandwiched in between. It is not quite Glastonbury but just like a music festival it can be difficult deciding which talks to attend, such is the choice on offer.

The session topics cover areas such as the rheology of complex fluids including emulsions, foams, polymers, suspensions and surfactants, to give a broad summary, but there are also sessions devoted to particular application areas such as biopolymers/proteins foods, nano-composites and materials processing. It would not be a rheology conference without specific sessions on non-Newtonian fluid mechanics, advanced measurement techniques and also computational modelling, the latter topic of which I often struggle to get my head around as a practical rheologist. An event on this scale must be a daunting task to manage and Joao Maia and his team have done a fantastic job regarding this; even implementing a system of coloured arrows to direct people to the various conference rooms.

Of specific interest to us was the session on Microrheology, of which I presented our work in this area yesterday. The session was opened by Todd Squires who covered the mathematics behind the microrheology technique and also the difficulties of working in the non-linear regime, which is possible with active microrheology techniques and perhaps something for the future! Our talk on ‘DLS microrheology for complex fluids’ was well received – particularly the method we use to ensure optimum scattering and minimum interaction between the probe particles and sample.

This was the last talk of the scheduled half-day session with various excursions planned for the afternoon and a beach party in the evening of which we kept everybody safe from the sun with our expertly formulated sun-cream. Formulations such as this highlight the importance of particle size, zeta potential and rheological properties to make a perfect dispersion, and for most attendees it was also a welcome giveaway in the Portuguese summer!

Rheology may be a complex discipline but you can’t say rheologists don’t know how to have fun with old and young alike dancing (bouncing!!) to music from the 80’s to the present in scenes somewhat reminiscent of an illegal rave at times!! Luckily there were no arrests.

It’s the conference dinner sponsored by Malvern this evening and we’ve got a lot to live up to…abit like London following the Beijing Olympics. Also 4 lucky people will find out if they have won one of our iPod watches!!