Transients in sheared granular matter.
As dense granular materials are sheared, a shear band and an anisotropic force network form. The approach to steady-state behavior depends on the history of the packing and the existing force and contact network. We present experiments on shearing of dense granular matter in a 2D Couette geometry in which we probe the history and evolution of shear bands by measuring particle trajectories and stresses during transients. We find that when shearing is stopped and restarted in the same direction, steady-state behavior is immediately reached, in agreement with the typical assumption that the system is quasistatic. Although some relaxation of the force network is observed when shearing is stopped, quasistatic behavior is maintained because the contact network remains essentially unchanged. When the direction of shear is reversed, a transient occurs in which stresses initially decrease, changes in the force network reach further into the bulk, and particles far from the wheel become more mobile. This occurs because the force network is fragile to changes transverse to the force network established under previous shear; particles must rearrange before becoming jammed again, thereby providing resistance to shear in the reversed direction. The strong force network is re-established after displacing the shearing surface approximately equal 3d, where d is the mean grain diameter. Steady-state velocity profiles are reached after a shear of < or approximately equal 30 d. Particles immediately outside of the shear band move on average less than 1 diameter before becoming jammed again. We also examine particle rotation during this transient and find that mean particle spin decreases during the transient, which is related to the fact that grains are not interlocked as strongly.
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