Marginal stability in jammed packings: Quasicontacts and weak contacts

Yoav Kallus, Salvatore Torquato

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Maximally random jammed (MRJ) sphere packing is a prototypical example of a system naturally poised at the margin between underconstraint and overconstraint. This marginal stability has traditionally been understood in terms of isostaticity, the equality of the number of mechanical contacts and the number of degrees of freedom. Quasicontacts, pairs of spheres on the verge of coming in contact, are irrelevant for static stability, but they come into play when considering dynamic stability, as does the distribution of contact forces. We show that the effects of marginal dynamic stability, as manifested in the distributions of quasicontacts and weak contacts, are consequential and nontrivial. We study these ideas first in the context of MRJ packing of d-dimensional spheres, where we show that the abundance of quasicontacts grows at a faster rate than that of contacts. We reexamine a calculation of Jin et al. [Phys. Rev. E 82, 051126 (2010)PLEEE81539-375510.1103/PhysRevE.82.051126], where quasicontacts were originally neglected, and we explore the effect of their inclusion in the calculation. This analysis yields an estimate of the asymptotic behavior of the packing density in high dimensions. We argue that this estimate should be reinterpreted as a lower bound. The latter part of the paper is devoted to Bravais lattice packings that possess the minimum number of contacts to maintain mechanical stability. We show that quasicontacts play an even more important role in these packings. We also show that jammed lattices are a useful setting for studying the Edwards ensemble, which weights each mechanically stable configuration equally and does not account for dynamics. This ansatz fails to predict the power-law distribution of near-zero contact forces, P(f)∼fθ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number022114
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 14 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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