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Precisely cyclic sand: Self-organization of periodically sheared frictional grains

Royer, John R., Chaikin, Paul M.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2015 v.112 no.1 pp. 49-53
friction, guidelines, industry, sand
The disordered static structure and chaotic dynamics of frictional granular matter has occupied scientists for centuries, yet there are few organizational principles or guiding rules for this highly hysteretic, dissipative material. We show that cyclic shear of a granular material leads to dynamic self-organization into several phases with different spatial and temporal order. Using numerical simulations, we present a phase diagram in strain–friction space that shows chaotic dispersion, crystal formation, vortex patterns, and most unusually a disordered phase in which each particle precisely retraces its unique path. However, the system is not reversible. Rather, the trajectory of each particle, and the entire frictional, many–degrees-of-freedom system, organizes itself into a limit cycle absorbing state. Of particular note is that fact that the cyclic states are spatially disordered, whereas the ordered states are chaotic.