Research

Cornstarch Physics

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Oobleck, a non-Newtonian fluid made up of water and cornstarch, is a perennial Internet favorite for its ability to dance and the fact that one can run across a pool of it. It’s typically described as a shear-thickening fluid and only exhibits solid-like behavior under impact. Strictly speaking, oobleck is a suspension of solid grains of cornstarch in water. When struck, the initially compressible grains jam together, creating a region more like a solid than a liquid. From this point of impact, a solidification front expands through the suspension, jamming more grains together and enabling the fluid to absorb large amounts of momentum. The process is known as dynamic solidification. (Video credit: University of Chicago; research credit: S. Waitukaitis & H. Jaeger)

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