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Disordered spherical bead packs are anisotropic

Schröder-Turk, G.E., Mickel, W., Schröter, M., Delaney, G.W., Saadatfar, M., Senden, T.J., Mecke, K. and Aste, T. (2010) Disordered spherical bead packs are anisotropic. EPL (Europhysics Letters), 90 (3). p. 34001.

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Investigating how tightly objects pack space is a long-standing problem, with relevance for many disciplines from discrete mathematics to the theory of glasses. Here we report on the fundamental yet so far overlooked geometric property that disordered mono-disperse spherical bead packs have significant local structural anisotropy manifest in the shape of the free space associated with each bead. Jammed disordered packings from several types of experiments and simulations reveal very similar values of the cell anisotropy, showing a linear decrease with packing fraction. Strong deviations from this trend are observed for unjammed configurations and for partially crystalline packings above 64%. These findings suggest an inherent geometrical reason why, in disordered packings, anisotropic shapes can fill space more efficiently than spheres, and have implications for packing effects in non-spherical liquid crystals, foams and structural glasses.

PACS numbers: 45.70.-n, 45.70.Cc, 05.65.+b

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Institute of Physics Publishing
Copyright: 2010 IOP
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