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Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2006 Sep;74(3 Pt 1):031308. Epub 2006 Sep 25.

Approach to jamming in an air-fluidized granular bed.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6396, USA.


Quasi-two-dimensional bidisperse amorphous systems of steel beads are fluidized by a uniform upflow of air, so that the beads roll on a horizontal plane. The short-time ballistic motion of the beads is stochastic, with non-Gaussian speed distributions and with different average kinetic energies for the two species. The approach to jamming is studied as a function of increasing bead area fraction and also as a function of decreasing air speed. The structure of the system is measured in terms of both the Voronoi tessellation and the pair distribution function. The dynamics of the system is measured in terms of both displacement statistics and the density of vibrational states. These quantities all exhibit tell-tale features as the dynamics become more constrained closer to jamming. In particular the pair distribution function and the Voronoi cell shape distribution function both develop split peaks. And the mean-squared displacement develops a plateau of subdiffusive motion separating ballistic and diffusive regimes. Though the system is driven and athermal, this behavior is remarkably reminiscent of that in dense colloidal suspensions and supercooled liquids. One possible difference is that kurtosis of the displacement distribution peaks at the beginning of the subdiffusive regime.


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