Pushing on a Nonlinear Material - Experiments on a model “soil” give new insight into the elasticity of nonlinear materials (article in Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, Nov. 3 2014 by Corentin Coulais (LION) and others).


Shear Modulus and Dilatancy Softening in Granular Packings above Jamming (Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 198001 – Published 3 November 2014; C. Coulais, A. Seguin, and O. Dauchot)


We investigate experimentally the mechanical response to shear of a monolayer of bidisperse frictional grains across the jamming transition. We inflate an intruder inside the packing and use photoelasticity and tracking techniques to measure the induced shear strain and stresses at the grain scale. We quantify experimentally the constitutive relations for strain amplitudes as low as 10^−3 and for a range of packing fractions within 2% variation around the jamming transition. At the transition strong nonlinear effects set in: both the shear modulus and the dilatancy shear soften at small strain until a critical strain is reached where effective linearity is recovered. The scaling of the critical strain and the associated critical stresses on the distance to jamming are extracted. We check that the constitutive laws, together with mechanical equilibrium, correctly predict to the observed stress and strain profiles. These profiles exhibit a spatial crossover between an effective linear regime close to the inflater and the truly nonlinear regime away from it. The crossover length diverges at the jamming transition.

Read the full article here and/or the Viewpoint article by Karen Daniels here.