Volume 81, Number 6, March 2008
Article Number 64005
Number of page(s) 6
Section Electromagnetism, Optics, Acoustics, Heat Transfer, Classical Mechanics, and Fluid Dynamics
Published online 28 February 2008
EPL, 81 (2008) 64005
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/81/64005

Rheology and structure of granular materials near the jamming transition

P. Mills1, P. G. Rognon2 and F. Chevoir2

1  Université Paris-Est, Laboratoire de Physique des Milieux Divisés et des Interfaces, UMR CNRS 8108 77 454 Marne la Vallée Cédex 2, France
2  Université Paris-Est, Institut Navier, Laboratoire des Matériaux et Structures du Génie Civil, UMR LCPC-ENPC-CNRS 113 - 2 allée Kepler, 77 420 Champs sur Marne, France

received 20 August 2007; accepted in final form 29 January 2008; published March 2008
published online 28 February 2008

The shear stress of non-cohesive granular material in the vicinity of the jamming transition is supposed to be connected to the formation of transient rigid clusters of particles. The characteristics of these transient clusters are investigated as a function of the imposed pressure, the solid volume fraction and the shear rate. This is responsible for an increase of the shear stress for a vanishing shear rate, which leads to an instability close to the jamming transition. We discuss the consequences for stick-slip motion and flows down an inclined plane, in agreement with the observations. Then, the oscillation of the granular material between two jam-flow states generates fast velocity fluctuations which result in a mean frictional force proportional to the mean velocity relative to the jammed state in the flow direction. Accordingly the velocity field in a simple shear flow is governed by a Brinkman equation and any symmetry break favours a strain localization. This analysis might be extended to the case of granular pastes.

45.70.Mg - Granular flow: mixing, segregation and stratification.
83.80.Fg - Granular solids.

© EPLA 2008