Ph.D. Thesis Seminar
Laboratory studies of granular materials under shear: from avalanches to force chains.
Granular materials reveal their complexity and some of their unique features when subjected to shear deformation. They can dilate, behave like a solid or a fluid, and are known to carry external forces preferentially as force chains. In this dissertation, we employ laboratory experiments to study the complex behavior of granular materials under shear. We introduce a multiscale approach in which the underlying grain-scale mechanics are experimentally measured and homogenized to obtain enriched macroscopic quantities. First, we investigate granular avalanches spontaneously generated by a rotating drum. Measurements of grain kinematics are directly incorporated into a rate-dependent plasticity model that explains and reproduces the life cycle of laboratory avalanches. The results presented here feature dilatancy as the key material parameter governing the triggering of an avalanche. Second, we report a set of experiments performed on a custom-built mechanical device that allows a specimen composed of a two-dimensional analogue granular assembly to be subjected to quasi-static shear conditions. A numerical force inference technique, the Granular Element Method (GEM), provides direct observation and quantitative characterization of force chain structures in assemblies made of realistic grains. Equipped with a complete description of the grain-scale mechanics, we show that shear deformation creates geometrical (fabric) and mechanical (force) anisotropy. Finally, the influence of grain shape on grain-scale processes is studied. We find that grain interlocking is a prominent deformation mechanism for non-circular grains that ultimately promotes a significant increase in macroscopic shear strength. By seamlessly connecting grain-scale information to continuum scale experiments, this dissertation shed light into the multiscale mechanical behavior of granular assemblies under shear.
Contact: Jenni Campbell at 626-395-3389 firstname.lastname@example.org