Tunable Shear Thickening in Suspensions

Neil Y.C. Lin*, Christopher Ness, Michael E. Cates, Jin Sun, Itai Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Shear thickening, an increase of viscosity with shear rate, is a ubiquitous phenomenon in suspended materials that has implications for broad technological applications. Controlling this thickening behavior remains a major challenge and has led to empirical strategies ranging from altering the particle surfaces and shape to modifying the solvent properties. However, none of these methods allows for tuning of flow properties during shear itself. Here, we demonstrate that by strategic imposition of a high-frequency and low-amplitude shear perturbation orthogonal to the primary shearing flow, we can largely eradicate shear thickening. The orthogonal shear effectively becomes a regulator for controlling thickening in the suspension, allowing the viscosity to be reduced by up to 2 decades on demand. In a separate setup, we show that such effects can be induced by simply agitating the sample transversely to the primary shear direction. Overall, the ability of in situ manipulation of shear thickening paves a route toward creating materials whose mechanical properties can be controlled.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10774–10778
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
Issue number39
Early online date12 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2016

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • rheology
  • colloidal suspensions
  • shear thickening
  • flow control


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