[L’industrie c’est fou] Oreo cookies, a research object in physics for MIT researchers

Across the Atlantic, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have looked into a surprising subject of study: why the cream of Oreos systematically remains stuck to one side when the two crispy discs are separated? This biscuit, which appeared in the United States more than a century ago (1912), could make it possible to answer questions of fluid physics, Gareth McKinley and John Hart, two professors at MIT, have published a study on the subject entitled « On Oreology, the fracture and flow of ‘milk’s favorite cookie’ » in a special edition of the journal Physics of Fluid.

Oreo tests of success

So why is the cream sticking to one side of the Oreo? To answer this existential question, MIT researchers 3D printed a rheometer (a device that measures the flow of fluids) specially adapted for the experiment on cookies. This machine makes it possible to fix and then exert pressure on each of the two slices of chocolate sandwich that form the Oreo to measure how it yields to pressure.

Oreos of several fillings and flavors were subjected to the rheometer by applying various levels of pressure. For each biscuit, the researchers noted the values ​​from which the biscuit ended up twisting, making it possible to calculate the viscoelasticity or the fluidity of the cream. “Researchers found that regardless of the amount of cream or flavor, the cream almost always separated on a single wafer”specifies the MIT on its site.

The birth of a new discipline: oreology

With this experiment, the researchers inaugurated a new discipline which they call theoreology. This neologism is a nod to rheology, a subject that studies the flow of liquids or viscous materials. According to MIT, understanding the properties of Oreo cream could potentially be applied to the design of other complex fluid materials.

“My 3D printing fluids are in the same class of materials as Oreo creamexplains Crystal Owens, a doctoral student at MIT who studies the properties of complex fluids. This new understanding can help me design ink better when trying to print flexible electronic components from a suspension of carbon nanotubes, as they deform in almost exactly the same way. »

The rheometer designed by the MIT team to study the fluid physics of Oreos.

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