Impact properties of shear thickening fluid impregnated foams
Concentrated colloidal suspensions of silica particles in polyethylene glycol exhibit a shear thickening behavior: above a critical shear rate in a confined environment, they show a steep increase of viscosity. This reversible transition from a low to a high viscosity state is associated with a large energy absorption that could be harnessed for impact protection. As these suspensions are liquid at rest, however, shear thickening fluids (STFs) are difficult to use in practical applications. Furthermore, their specific rheological properties exist within a narrow range of concentration, so they tend to disappear when the material is in contact with air and humidity. In this work, a soft foam scaffold was impregnated with STF to provide a three-dimensional shape to the assembly at rest, while a silicone was cast around it to serve as a physical barrier to the external environment. A method to quickly impregnate the foam was proposed. Impact tests were carried out on the STF/foam/silicone composite pads using a free fall impact tower. Compared to rubber or pure silicone, larger energy absorptions, up to 85%, were observed, which could be repeated for multiple impacts. The transmitted shock waves were also reduced, showing the potential of this system for impact protection of structures.