Fluid Dynamics Seminar

Monday, May 5th, 2008, 4:00 PM
Cullimore Lecture Hall, Room 611
New Jersey Institute of Technology


Shaken, Not Stirred: Granular Equilibrium

Mark Shattuck


City College of New York, CUNY



Equilibrium statistical mechanics is generally not applicable to systems with energy input and dissipation present, and identifying relevant tools for understanding these far-from-equilibrium systems poses a serious challenge. Excited granular materials or granular fluids have become a canonical system to explore such ideas since they are inherently dissipative due to inter-particle frictional contacts and inelastic collisions. Granular materials also have far reaching practical importance in a number of industries, but accumulated ad-hoc knowledge is often the only design tool. An important feature of granular fluids is that the driving and dissipation mechanisms can be made to balance such that a Non-Equilibrium Steady-State (NESS) is achieved. We present strong experimental evidence for a NESS first-order phase transition in a vibrated two-dimensional granular fluid. The phase transition between a gas and a crystal is characterized by a discontinuous change in both density and temperature and exhibits rate dependent hysteresis. We measure a "free energy"-like function for the system and compare and contrast this type of transition with an equilibrium first-order phase transition and a hysteretic backward bifurcation in a nonlinear pattern forming system.