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Onset of Mechanical Stability in Random Packings of Frictional Spheres Melissa Jerkins, Matthias Schroter,* and Harry L. Swinney

Summary: Onset of Mechanical Stability in Random Packings of Frictional Spheres
Melissa Jerkins, Matthias Schrošter,* and Harry L. Swinney
Center for Nonlinear Dynamics and Department of Physics, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712, USA
Tim J. Senden, Mohammad Saadatfar, and Tomaso Aste
Department of Applied Mathematics, Research School of Physical Sciences and Engineering, The Australian National University,
0200 Canberra, ACT, Australia
(Received 15 November 2007; revised manuscript received 28 April 2008; published 2 July 2008)
Using sedimentation to obtain precisely controlled packings of noncohesive spheres, we find that the
volume fraction RLP of the loosest mechanically stable packing is in an operational sense well defined by
a limit process. This random loose packing volume fraction decreases with decreasing pressure p and
increasing interparticle friction coefficient . Using x-ray tomography to correct for a container boundary
effect that depends on particle size, we find for rough particles in the limit p ! 0 a new lower bound,
RLP 0:550 0:001.
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.101.018301 PACS numbers: 45.70.Cc, 46.65.+g, 47.57.ef
Introduction.--If granular materials such as sand, sugar,
or snow are excited strongly (e.g., by shaking or shearing),
they exhibit fluidlike behavior. However, after the excita-
tion stops, dissipation quickly produces a static packing
that is mechanically stable under its own weight.
Experiments [1­8] and simulations [9­13] have shown


Source: Aste, Tomaso - Department of Applied Mathematics, Australian National University


Collections: Physics