Mixing of granular materials: A test-bed dynamical system for pattern formation

K. M. Hill*, J. F. Gilchrist, Julio M Ottino, D. V. Khakhar, J. J. McCarthy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Mixing of granular materials provides fascinating examples of pattern formation and self-organization. More mixing action - for example, increasing the forcing with more vigorous shaking or faster tumbling - does not guarantee a better-mixed final system. This is because granular mixtures of just barely different materials segregate according to density and size; in fact, the very same forcing used to mix may unmix. Self-organization results from two competing effects: chaotic advection or chaotic mixing, as in the case of fluids, and flow-induced segregation, a phenomenon without parallel in fluids. The rich array of behaviors is ideally suited for nonlinear-dynamics-based inspection. Moreover, the interplay with experiments is immediate. In fact, these systems may constitute the simplest example of coexistence between chaos and self-organization that can be studied in the laboratory. We present a concise summary of the necessary theoretical background and central physical ideas accompanied by illustrative experimental results to aid the reader in exploring this fascinating new area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1467-1484
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos in Applied Sciences and Engineering
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • General
  • Applied Mathematics

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