Shear thinning

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Shear thinning is an effect where a fluid's viscosity—the measure of a fluid's resistance to flow—decreases with an increasing rate of shear strain. Another name for a shear thinning fluid is a pseudoplastic. This property is found in certain complex solutions, such as lava, ketchup, whipped cream, blood, paint, and nail polish. It is also a common property of polymer solutions and molten polymers. Pseudoplasticity can be demonstrated by the manner in which squeezing a bottle of ketchup, a Bingham plastic, causes the contents to undergo a change in viscosity. The force causes it to go from being thick like honey to flowing like water. The study of such phenomena is called rheology.

All materials that are shear thinning are thixotropic, in that they will always take a finite time to bring about the rearrangements needed in the microstructural elements that result in shear thinning.[1]

Everyday examples[edit]

Modern paints are examples of pseudoplastic materials. When modern paints are applied the shear created by the brush or roller will allow them to thin and wet out the surface evenly. Once applied the paints regain their higher viscosity which avoids drips and runs.

Ketchup is a shear-thinning fluid, caused by the addition of a relatively small amount of Xanthan gum - usually 0.5%.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Barnes, Howard A. (1997). "Thixotropy a review" (PDF). J. Non-Newtonian Fluid Mech., 70: 3. Retrieved 2011-11-30.