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Image credit: Swansea University

High-speed camera captures a fluid behaving like a solid

It could shape the future of engineering.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
August 15, 2020
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High-speed camera captures fluid behaving like solid
Swansea University

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High-speed cameras are useful for capturing the unseen world, and that includes the occasional example of oddball physics. Researchers have used a camera recording at 1,000 frames per second to spot a fluid behaving like a solid. The team put a liquid mixture of corn starch and water into a narrow cell, and subjected it to pressurized air that resulted in Discontinuous Shear Thickening — that is, the fluid thickened and produced solid-style “fractures.”

This kind of stress experiment hadn’t been performed on a DST fluid until now.

By itself, the study revealed what was possible with the material. You could turn the friction (and thus the fluid state) “on and off like a switch” just by varying the pressure.

However, Swansea University also suggested this could have a significant impact on engineering going forward. Scientists are already hoping to use DST for soft body armor, dynamic speed bumps and other products that could change properties on demand. Don’t be surprised if high-speed cameras become a mainstay of some engineering teams as a result.

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