Solid or Liquid: Shearing 3D Packings of Particles

Granular materials such as sand, rice or coffee beans can behave as a solid (you can walk on them on the beach), or they can behave as a liquid (you can pour chocolate sprinkles from a carton). Depending on the way you drive a collection of particles from the boundary, its behavior changes. In this project you will investigate how a three dimensional packing of soft particles flows (or not) as you drive it mechanically. Master thesis projects in this research context will involve working with electro-mechanical devices and Labview, and data analysis using Matlab. Bachelor students should already have some experience in programming (say through Python, but any modern language will do) to be able to successfully complete a ten week thesis


Figure 1: Force network among compressed particles, reconstructed from experimental data (source).