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Soft Matter. 2016 Feb 14;12(6):1836-46. doi: 10.1039/c5sm02403j. Epub 2015 Dec 17.

Effect of long-range repulsive Coulomb interactions on packing structure of adhesive particles.

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Key Laboratory for Thermal Science and Power Engineering of Ministry of Education, Department of Thermal Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China.


The packing of charged micron-sized particles is investigated using discrete element simulations based on adhesive contact dynamic model. The formation process and the final obtained structures of ballistic packings are studied to show the effect of interparticle Coulomb force. It is found that increasing the charge on particles causes a remarkable decrease of the packing volume fraction ϕ and the average coordination number 〈Z〉, indicating a looser and chainlike structure. Force-scaling analysis shows that the long-range Coulomb interaction changes packing structures through its influence on particle inertia before they are bonded into the force networks. Once contact networks are formed, the expansion effect caused by repulsive Coulomb forces are dominated by short-range adhesion. Based on abundant results from simulations, a dimensionless adhesion parameter Ad*, which combines the effects of the particle inertia, the short-range adhesion and the long-range Coulomb interaction, is proposed and successfully scales the packing results for micron-sized particles within the latest derived adhesive loose packing (ALP) regime. The structural properties of our packings follow well the recent theoretical prediction which is described by an ensemble approach based on a coarse-grained volume function, indicating some kind of universality in the low packing density regime of the phase diagram regardless of adhesion or particle charge. Based on the comprehensive consideration of the complicated inter-particle interactions, our findings provide insight into the roles of short-range adhesion and repulsive Coulomb force during packing formation and should be useful for further design of packings.


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