VIGRE2 Vertical Intergration of Research and Education Department of Mathematics, University of Utah

Peter Sommerkorn








Mentor: Ken Golden
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Summer 2007 project description:

Electrorheological (ER) fluids are a class of materials that exhibit drastic viscosity changes in short spans of time when exposed to an electric field. An example of an ER fluid is a suspension of micrometer sized glass spheres in a polymeric based liquid. Within a few milliseconds, the viscosity of ER fluids can change by a multiple of up to 150,000. This essentially allows these fluids to change from a solid phase to a liquid phase almost instantaneously. The potential uses for such materials are seemingly limitless. Applications are currently being pursued in areas such as bio-medical engineering and the automotive industry, with many more areas to follow.

We propose to research the feasibility of producing a small-scale model of an ER fluid with the intent of building this prototype. A working model would provide valuable insight into the mechanisms present in ER fluids. By combining a tangible experiment with theoretical knowledge of ER fluids, our understanding of ER fluids will be much more comprehensive. Engineering and building the model described above will provide us with the means to conduct these tangible experiments, greatly enhancing the effectiveness of research connected to ER fluids.

Summer 2007 final report

Spring 2008 project description