An experimental study of the jamming phase diagram for two-dimensional granular materials.

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What affects the transition of a collection of grains from flowing to a rigid packing? Previous efforts towards answering this important question have led to various versions of ``jamming’’ phase diagrams, which specify conditions under which a granular material behaves like solid, i.e., in a jammed phase. In this dissertation, we report two sets of experiments to study the influence of particle shape and of the form of the applied shear strain on the jamming phase diagram of slowly deformed frictional granular materials. We use 2d photoelastic particles to measure the overall pressure of the system and various physical quantities that characterize the contact network such as the averaged number of contacts per particle.

In the first set of experiments, we systematically compare the mechanical and geometrical properties of uniaxially compressed granular materials consisting of particles with shapes of either regular pentagon or disk. The compression is applied quasi-statically and induces a density-driven jamming transition. We find that pentagons and disks jam at similar packing fraction. At the onset of jamming, disks have contact numbers consistent with predictions from an ideal constraint counting argument. However, this argument fails to predict the right contact number for pentagons. We also find that both jammed pentagons and disks show the Gamma distribution of the Voronoi cell area with the same parameters. Moreover, jammed pentagons have similar translational order for particle centers but slightly less orientational order for contacting pairs compared to jammed disks. Finally, we report observations that for jammed pentagons, the angle between edges at a face-to-vertex contact point shows a uniform distribution and the size of a cluster connected by face-to-face contacts shows a power-law distribution.

In the second set of experiments, we use a novel multi-ring Couette shear apparatus that we developed to eliminate shear banding which unavoidably appears in conventional Couette shear experiments. A shear band is a narrow region where a lot of rearrangements of particles occur. The shear band usually has a much smaller packing fraction than the rest of the system. We map out a jamming phase diagram experimentally, and for the first time perform a systematic direct test of the mechanical responses of the jammed states created by shearing under reverse shear. We find a clear distinction between fragile states and shear-jammed states: the latter do not collapse under reverse shear. The yield stress curve is also mapped out, which marks the stress needed for the shear-jammed states to enter a steady regime where many plastic rearrangements of particles happen and the overall stress fluctuates around a constant. Interestingly, for large packing fraction, a shear band still develops when the system remains strongly jammed in the steady regime. We find that the cooperative motion of particles in this regime is highly heterogeneous and can be quantified by a dynamical susceptibility, which keeps growing as the packing fraction increases.

Our observations not only serve as important data to construct theories to explain the origin of rigidity in density-driven jamming and shear-induced jamming but also are relevant to many other key problems in the physics of granular matter from the stability of a jammed packing to the complex dynamics of dense granular flows.






Zhao, Yiqiu (2020). An experimental study of the jamming phase diagram for two-dimensional granular materials. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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