Role of interparticle forces in the formation of random loose packing

K. J. Dong, R. Y. Yang, R. P. Zou, A. B. Yu

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We present a physical and numerical study of the settling of uniform spheres in liquids and show that interparticle forces play a critical role in forming the so-called random loose packing (RLP). Different packing conditions give different interparticle forces and, hence, different RLP. Two types of interparticle forces are identified: process dependent and process independent. The van der Waals force, as the major cohesive force in the present study, plays a critical role in effecting the process-dependent forces such as drag and lift forces. An equation is formulated to describe the relationship between the macroscopic packing fraction and microscopic interparticle forces in a packing. We argue there is no lowest packing fraction for a mechanically stable RLP; hence, the packing fractions of RLP can range from 0 to 0.64 depending on the cohesive and frictional conditions between particles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145505
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes

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