Velocity oscillations and stop-go cycles: The trajectory of an object settling in a cornstarch suspension

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We present results for objects settling in a cornstarch suspension. Two surprising phenomena can be found in concentrated suspensions. First, the settling object does not attain a terminal velocity but exhibits oscillations around a terminal velocity when traveling through the bulk of the liquid. Second, close to the bottom, the object comes to a full stop but then reaccelerates before coming to another stop. This cycle can be repeated up to 6 or 7 times before the object reaches the bottom to come to a final stop. For the bulk, we show that shear-thickening models are insufficient to account for the observed oscillations and that the history of the suspension needs to be taken into account. A hysteretic model, that goes beyond the traditional viscoelastic ones, describes the experiments quite well but still misses some details. The behavior at the bottom can be modeled with a minimal jamming model.
Original languageEnglish
Article number042301
Number of pages14
JournalPhysical review E: Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics
Issue number042301
Publication statusPublished - 2013



  • METIS-296915
  • IR-89944

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