Understanding the effects of inter-particle contact friction on the elastic moduli of granular materials

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Understanding the mechanical stiffness of closely packed, dense granular systems is of interest in many fields, such as soil mechanics, material science and physics. The main difficulty arises due to discreteness and disorder in granular materials at the microscopic scale which requires a multi-scale approach. The Discrete Element Method (DEM) is a powerful tool to inspect the influence of the microscopic contact properties of its individual constituents on the bulk behavior of granular assemblies. In this study, the isotropic deformation mode of polydisperse packings of frictionless and frictional spheres are modeled by using DEM, to investigate the effective stiffness of the granular assembly. At various volume fractions, for every sample, we determine the stress and fabric incremental response that result from the application of strain-probes. As we are interested first in the reversible, elastic response, the amplitude of the applied perturbations has to be small enough to avoid opening and closing of too many contacts, which would lead to irreversible rearrangements in the sample. Counterintuitively, with increasing inter-particle contact friction, the bulk modulus decreases systematically with the coefficient of friction for samples with the same volume fraction. We explain this by the difference in microstructure (isotropic fabric) the samples get when compressed to the same density.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Symposium on Geohazards and Geomechanics
PublisherInstitute of Physics (IOP)
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventInternational Symposium on Geohazards and Geomechanics, ISGG 2015 - Warwick, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Sept 201511 Sept 2015

Publication series



ConferenceInternational Symposium on Geohazards and Geomechanics, ISGG 2015
Abbreviated titleISGG
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • METIS-315710
  • IR-99361


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