SXSW Research Video

Shear thickening fluid has many applications, including in needlestick-resistant surgical gloves

UD professor featured in American Chemical Society video at SXSW

The hipsters, thought leaders and innovators attending the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Texas, this week are being introduced to some University of Delaware innovation that’s designed to help people both here on the ground and rocketing off into space. In a video being premiered by the American Chemical Society at SXSW, UD professor Norman Wagner and his interdisciplinary team’s work with shear thickening fluids is showcased — in applications ranging from bullet-proof vests, to needlestick-resistant surgical gloves, concussion-resistant helmets, next-generation prosthetics and even spacesuits. As Wagner explains, shear thickening fluids are “field-responsive” materials meaning that the harder you push on them, the harder they push back. His team’s work to harness this unique capability and provide protection where it currently doesn’t exist — to first responders to doctors to astronauts — is highlighted in one of three short-form documentaries produced by the American Chemical Society. The series illustrates the importance of chemistry in innovation and the cross-collaboration and interdisciplinary nature of today’s scientific endeavors.

In addition to Wagner, who is the Unidel Robert L. Pigford Chaired Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UD, and co-founder of the startup company STF Technologies, the video includes Richard Dombrowski, co-founder of STF Technologies, and research assistant Eric Hobbs, who both received their bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering from UD, Jehnae Linkins, doctoral student in biomechanics and movement science, and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Maria Katzarova. Eric Wetzel, research scientist and a key partner at the Army Research Laboratory, and John Horne, president of Independence Prosthetics-Orthotics, also are included.

The American Chemical Society, which is participating in the expo hall at SXSW for the first time this year, has more than 157,000 members around the globe. The videos and other information are being presented on its new community engagement platform, the ACS Xchange, which is open to the public. Watch the UD Team’s Video