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Heterogeneities in granular media

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The absence of Brownian motion in granular media leads to the presence of persistent heterogeneities. Bridges are examples of spatial heterogeneities; I’ll present numerical and analytical results on their structure and discuss their connection with force chains. Spatiotemporal heterogeneities occur when specific regions of a granular system move in correlated ways; the surprisingly diverse dynamics of a granular column are an illustration of this. Our conclusions suggest that different dynamical phases — ballistic, logarithmic, activated, and glassy — exist as a function of depth. The glassy phase shows clear evidence of its intrinsic (‘‘crystalline’’) states, which lie below a band of approximately degenerate and metastable ground states; in the other three phases, by contrast, the system jams randomly into one of its metastable states.

A. Mehta, G. C. Barker, J. M. Luck, Physics Today, pp 40-45 (May 2009)

This talk is part of the Irregular seminars in TCM series.

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