Threshold of gas-like to clustering transition in driven granular media in low-gravity environment

M. Noirhomme1, A. Cazaubiel2, A. Darras1, E. Falcon2, D. Fischer3, Y. Garrabos4, C. Lecoutre-Chabot4, S. Merminod2, E. Opsomer1, F. Palencia4, J. Schockmel1, R. Stannarius3 and N. Vandewalle1

1Group for Research & Applications in Statistical Physics (GRASP), Physics Department, B5a, University of Liège, B-4000-Liège, Belgium
         2Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, MSC, UMR 7057 CNRS, F-75013 Paris, France
    3Institute of Physics, Otto von Guericke University, D-39106 Magdeburg, Germany
    4Institut de Chimie et de la Matière Condensée de Bordeaux (ICMCB) - UPR 9048 CNRS, F-33608, Pessac, France

Reference: EPL (Europhysics Letters) 123, 14003 (2018)


Abstract:  Strongly driven granular media are known to undergo a transition from a gas-like to a cluster regime when the density of particles is increased. However, the main mechanism triggering this transition is not fully understood so far. Here, we investigate experimentally this transition within a 3D cell filled with beads that are driven by two face-to-face vibrating pistons in low gravity during parabolic flight campaigns. By varying large ranges of parameters, we obtain the full phase diagram of the dynamical regimes reached by the out-of-equilibrium system: gas, cluster or bouncing aggregate. The images of the cell recorded by two perpendicular cameras are processed to obtain the profiles of particle density along the vibration axis of the cell. A statistical test is then performed on these distributions to determinate which regime is reached by the system. The experimental results are found in very good agreement with theoretical models for the gas-cluster transition and for the emergence of the bouncing state. The transition is shown to occur when the typical propagation time needed to transmit the kinetic energy from one piston to the other is of the order of the relaxation time due to dissipative collisions.

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