The role of particle shape in computational modelling of granular matter

Jidong Zhao*, Shiwei Zhao*, Stefan Luding

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Granular matter is ubiquitous in nature and is present in diverse forms in important engineering, industrial and natural processes. Particle-based computational modelling has become indispensable to understand and predict the complex behaviour of granular matter in these processes. The success of modern computational models requires realistic and efficient consideration of particle shape. Realistic particle shapes in naturally occurring and engineered materials offer diverse challenges owing to their multiscale nature in both length and time. Furthermore, the complex interactions with other materials, such as interstitial fluids, are highly nonlinear and commonly involve multiphysics coupling. This Technical Review presents a comprehensive appraisal of state-of-the-art computational models for granular particles of either naturally occurring shapes or engineered geometries. It focuses on particle shape characterization, representation and implementation, as well as its important effects. In addition, the particles may be hard, highly deformable, crushable or phase transformable; they might change their behaviour in the presence of interstitial fluids and are sensitive to density, confining stress and flow state. We describe generic methodologies that capture the universal features of granular matter and some unique approaches developed for special but important applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-525
Number of pages21
JournalNature Reviews Physics
Issue number9
Early online date10 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


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