Description: Continuum mechanics relies on the fundamental notion of amesoscopic volume "element" in which properties averaged over discreteparticles obey deterministic relationships. Recent work on granularmaterials suggests a continuum law may be inapplicable, revealinginhomogeneities at the particle level, such as force chains and slow cagebreaking. Here, we analyze large-scale Discrete-Element Method (DEM)simulations of different granular flows and show that a "granularelement" can indeed be defined at the scale of dynamical correlations,roughly three to five particle diameters. Its rheology is rather subtle,combining liquid-like dependence on deformation rate and solid-likedependence on strain. Our results confirm some aspects of classicalplasticity theory (e.g., coaxiality of stress and deformation rate),while contradicting others (i.e., incipient yield), and can guide thedevelopment of more realistic continuum models.
Date: December 3, 2007
Creator: Rycroft, Chris H.; Kamrin, Ken & Bazant, Martin Z.
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