Role of interparticle friction and particle-scale elasticity in the shear-strength mechanism of three-dimensional granular media

N.P. Kruyt, S.J. Antony
American Physical Society
Physical Research E
Bimodal Contribution, Interparticle Friction and Elasticity, Shear Strength

The interlink between particle-scale properties and macroscopic behavior of three-dimensional granular media subjected to mechanical loading is studied intensively by scientists and engineers, but not yet well understood. Here we study the role of key particle-scale properties, such as interparticle friction and particle elastic modulus, in the functioning of dual contact force networks, viz., strong and weak contacts, in mobilizing shear strength in dense granular media subjected to quasistatic shearing. The study is based on three-dimensional discrete element method in which particle-scale constitutive relations are based on well-established nonlinear theories of contact mechanics.

The underlying distinctive contributions of these force networks to the macroscopic stress tensor of sheared granular media are examined here in detail to find out how particle-scale friction and particle-scale elasticity (or particle-scale stiffness) affect the mechanism of mobilization of macroscopic shear strength and other related properties. We reveal that interparticle friction mobilizes shear strength through bimodal contribution, i.e., through both major and minor principal stresses. However, against expectation, the contribution of particle-scale elasticity is mostly unimodal, i.e., through the minor principal stress component, but hardly by the major principal stress.

The packing fraction and the geometric stability of the assemblies (expressed by the mechanical coordination number) increase for decrease in interparticle friction and elasticity of particles. Although peak shear strength increases with interparticle friction, the deviator strain level at which granular systems attain peak shear strength is mostly independent of interparticle friction. Granular assemblies attain peak shear strength (and maximum fabric anisotropy of strong contacts) when a critical value of the mechanical coordination number is attained.

Irrespective of the interparticle friction and elasticity of the particles, the packing fraction and volumetric strain are constant during steady state. Volumetric strain in sheared granular media increases with interparticle friction and elasticity of the particles. We show that the elasticity of the particles does not enhance dilation in frictionless granular media. The results presented here provide additional understanding of the role of particle-scale properties on the collective behavior of three-dimensional granular media subjected to shearing.

Keywords: Shear Strength, Bimodal Contribution, Interparticle Friction and Elasticity

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