Capturing patterns and symmetries in chaotic granular flow

Steven W. Meier*, Stephen E. Cisar, Richard M. Lueptow, Julio M. Ottino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Segregation patterns formed by time-periodic flow of polydisperse granular material (varying in particle size) in quasi-two-dimensional (quasi-2D) tumblers capture the symmetries of Poincaré sections, stroboscopic maps of the underlying flow, derived from a continuum model which contains no information about particle properties. We study this phenomenon experimentally by varying the concentration of small particles in a bidisperse mixture in quasi-2D tumblers with square and pentagonal cross sections. By coupling experiments with an analysis of periodic points, we explain the connection between the segregation patterns and the dynamics of the underlying flow. Analysis of the eigenvectors and unstable manifolds of hyperbolic points shows that lobes of segregated small particles stretch from hyperbolic points toward corners of the tumbler, demonstrating the connection between regions of chaotic flow and the shape of the segregation patterns. Furthermore, unstable manifolds map the shape of lobes of segregated particles. The techniques developed here can also be applied to nonpolygonal tumblers such as elliptical tumblers, as well as to circular tumblers with time-periodic forcing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031310
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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