Transition from continuous to discontinuous shear thickening: An excluded volume effect

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In this Letter, we present a new mechanism under the action of which a shear thickening suspension transitions from a continuous to a discontinuous regime. This transition occurs by adding high concentrations of large spheres to a continuous shear thickening suspension. We show that the solid volume fraction of the interstitial shear thickening matrix is locally enhanced due to the presence of large particles and the excluded-volume shells surrounding the large particles, thus leading to a continuous to discontinuous shear thickening transition at the local scale.