Complex Systems@RIT   Professor Scott V. Franklin, Dept of Physics, RIT

Lab Home--People-- Papers and Talks -- Future Projects

Current Projects

2D granular shear in an
annular-planar geometry

Disks are put between two concentric cylinders, forming an annular array (pictured above), and sheared with a serrated ring at top. Although the bottom particles rarely move more than a fraction of their diameter, the effect is to significantly compact the pile. We're now tracking the individual particles to see how defects in the crystal lattice move. Defects can't simply disappear; they must either move to the surface or annihilate with another defect, leading to long range attractive forces, even though the particles are completely non-attracting.

Random packing of
frictionless rods


This simulation generates least-dense jammed packings of rods of various length/width ratio. We study the nature of the jammed state, looking for characteristic changes as the particles become long and thin.  

Granular flow through hoppers

Hoppers are a natural system in which to study jamming, with many practical applications. The statistics of jamming — particularly how many particles exit the hopper before the flow stops — are studied as both the particle length and size of the exit aperture is varied. As the opening becomes larger the flow changes from essentially two- to three-dimensional, with many interesting changes in scaling.

Complex Systems

We study rod-like granular materials: collections of long, thin particles, piles of which are more "solid" than ordinary sand piles.

A complex system is one that:

  • consists of many interacting components
  • generates interesting features --- patterns, structures, chaos --- from the interactions between components
  • produces collective behaviors often impossible to predict from just knowing the individual interactions

Studying granular materials means looking at

  • the collective effects of thousands of individual grains
  • strange phenomena like arches, voids, slugging, and jamming arising from simple friction and contact forces

Current Projects

  • Random packing of rod-like particles
  • granular flow through hoppers
  • Column collapse of rod-like granular materials
  • rheological properties of U-shaped particles
  • 2D granular shear in annular-planar geometry

Possible Future Projects

Past Projects

  • Jamming of rods during filtration
  • Jamming in 3D granular piles
  • Connected networks in 2D rodpiles
  • Static properties of 2D rodpiles
  • Chaos in a bouncing dumbbell

Past Projects

Jamming in 3D Piles

What determines if 3D piles of rods form a solid plug? We found that it depends not only on the particle aspect ratio, but also on the container they're poured into.

Connected Networks in
2D Granular Materials

When we push through a pile of rods spread on a table, sometimes all the rods jam into a single connected network, as shown above. Why?

Chaotic Dynamics of
a Bouncing Dumbbell

Simulations show that a purely elastic, dumbbell dropped on a table bounces in a quasi-periodic manner, with resonances occurring as the initial drop height is increased.

Static properties of 2D piles
of Prolate Granular Materials

2D piles of rods show large empty spaces (voids). Nevertheless, the majority of the pile area is caused by the cumulative effect of lots of small voids.


Funding: