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Doug Durian : Growth of dynamical heterogeneity in dense granular materials on approach to jamming

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The physics of granular flow is of widespread practical and fundamental interest, and is also important in geology and astrophysics. One challenge to understanding and controlling behavior is that the mechanical response is nonlinear, with a forcing threshold below which the medium is static and above which it flows freely. Furthermore, just above threshold the response may be intermittent even though the forcing is steady. Two familiar examples are avalanches on a heap and clogging in a silo. Another example is dynamical heterogeneities for systems brought close to jamming, where intermediate-time motion is correlated in the form of intermitted string-like swirls. This will be reviewed in the context of glassy liquids and colloids, and more deeply illustrated with experiments on three different granular systems. This includes air-fluidized beads, where jamming is approached by density and airspeed; granular heap flow, where jamming is approached by depth from the free surface; and dense suspensions of NIPA beads, where jamming is approached by both density and shear rate. Emphasis will be given to measurement and analysis methods for quantifying heterogeneities, as well as the scaling of the size of heterogeneities with distance to jamming.

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