Geometrical families of mechanically stable granular packings

Guo Jie Gao, Jerzy Blawzdziewicz, Corey S. O'Hern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


We enumerate and classify nearly all of the possible mechanically stable (MS) packings of bidipserse mixtures of frictionless disks in small sheared systems. We find that MS packings form continuous geometrical families, where each family is defined by its particular network of particle contacts. We also monitor the dynamics of MS packings along geometrical families by applying quasistatic simple shear strain at zero pressure. For small numbers of particles (N<16), we find that the dynamics is deterministic and highly contracting. That is, if the system is initialized in a MS packing at a given shear strain, it will quickly lock into a periodic orbit at subsequent shear strain, and therefore sample only a very small fraction of the possible MS packings in steady state. In studies with N>16, we observe an increase in the period and random splittings of the trajectories caused by bifurcations in configuration space. We argue that the ratio of the splitting and contraction rates in large systems will determine the distribution of MS-packing geometrical families visited in steady state. This work is part of our long-term research program to develop a master-equation formalism to describe macroscopic slowly driven granular systems in terms of collections of small subsystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number061303
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 16 2009


Dive into the research topics of 'Geometrical families of mechanically stable granular packings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this