Pushing the glass transition towards random close packing using self-propelled hard

Ni, R.; Cohen Stuart, M.A.; Dijkstra, M.


Although the concept of random close packing with an almost universal packing fraction of approximately 0.64 for hard spheres was introduced more than half a century ago, there are still ongoing debates. The main difficulty in searching the densest packing is that states with packing fractions beyond the glass transition at approximately 0.58 are inherently non-equilibrium systems, where the dynamics slows down with a structural relaxation time diverging with density; hence, the random close packing is inaccessible. Here we perform simulations of self-propelled hard spheres, and we find that with increasing activity the relaxation dynamics can be sped up by orders of magnitude. The glass transition shifts to higher packing fractions upon increasing the activity, allowing the study of sphere packings with fluid-like dynamics at packing fractions close to RCP. Our study opens new possibilities of investigating dense packings and the glass transition in systems of hard particles