Thursday, February 08, 2007


A non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid in which the viscosity changes with the applied strain rate. As a result, non-Newtonian fluids may not have a well-defined viscosity.Although the concept of viscosity is commonly used to characterize a material, it can be inadequate to describe the mechanical behavior of a substance, particularly non-Newtonian fluids.

An inexpensive, non-toxic sample of a non-Newtonian fluid sometimes known as oobleck can be made very easily by adding corn starch to a cup of water. Add the starch in small portions and stir it in slowly. When the suspension nears the critical concentration - becoming like single cream in consistency - the so called "shear thickening" property of this non-Newtonian fluid becomes apparent. The application of force - for example by stabbing the surface with a finger, or rapidly inverting the container holding it - leads to the fluid behaving like a solid rather than a liquid. More gentle treatment, such as slowly inserting a spoon, will leave it in its liquid state. Trying to jerk the spoon back out again, however, will trigger the return of the temporary solid state. A person moving quickly and/or applying sufficient force with his feet can literally walk across such a liquid (see video link above).

Shear thickening fluids of this sort are being researched for bullet resistant body armor, useful for their ability to absorb the energy of a high velocity projectile impact but remain soft and flexible while worn.

A familiar example of the opposite, a shear-thinning fluid, is paint: one wants the paint to flow readily off the brush when it is being applied to the surface being painted, but not to drip excessively.

[+ wiki]

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home