Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

James G. Miller


This dissertation describes the characterization of an inherently inhomogeneous medium capable of shear thickening. An aqueous suspension of cornstarch represents an important exemplar of such physical systems. The physics underlying the behavior of such shear thickening suspensions is incompletely understood. Characterization of these suspensions may provide valuable clues into the underlying mechanisms that result in shear thickening behavior. The goal of this thesis is to characterize the acoustic properties of suspensions of cornstarch in density-matched cesium chloride aqueous solutions. A review of the literature indicated that almost no information concerning the ultrasonic characteristics of suspensions of starches had been reported other than studies monitoring the gelatinization of starches not relevant to the shear stiffening of ungelatinized suspensions. Each chapter began with a discussion and validation of the specific experimental techniques and methods of analysis necessary for each type of measurement. Ultrasonic measurement of the group velocity, the frequency-dependent attenuation properties, the frequency-dependent phase velocity, and the frequency-dependent backscatter properties of the suspensions of cornstarch are reported. Initially counterintuitive results including negative: phase velocity) dispersion and a decrease in the measured backscatter coefficient with increasing particle concentration are understood in terms of widely accepted physical models. In sum, these studies represent an advancement of the understanding of the physics underly- ing the interaction between ultrasound and suspensions and lay the groundwork for future studies probing the physics of the shear thickening.


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