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Physics  2013 

Length scales and self-organization in dense suspension flows

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.89.022305

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Dense non-Brownian suspension flows of hard particles display mystifying properties: as the jamming threshold is approached, the viscosity diverges, as well as a length scale that can be identified from velocity correlations. To unravel the microscopic mechanism governing dissipation and its connection to the observed long-range correlations, we develop an analogy between suspension flows and the rigidity transition occurring when floppy networks are pulled -- a transition believed to be associated to the stress-stiffening of certain gels. After deriving the critical properties near the rigidity transition, we show numerically that suspensions flows lie close to it. We find that this proximity causes a decoupling between viscosity and the correlation length of velocities \xi, which scales as the length l_c characterizing the response of the velocity in flow to a local perturbation, previously predicted to follow l_c\sim 1/\sqrt{z_c-z}\sim p^{0.18} where p is the dimensionless particle pressure, z the coordination of the contact network made by the particles and z_c is twice the spatial dimension. We confirm these predictions numerically, predict the existence of a larger length scale l_r\sim 1/\sqrt{p} with mild effects on velocity correlation and the existence of a vanishing strain \delta \gamma\sim 1/p that characterizes de-correlation in flow.


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