Complex networks in confined comminution

David M. Walker, A. Tordesillas, I. Einav, Michael Small

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13 Citations (Web of Science)


The physical process of confined comminution is investigated within the framework of complex networks. We first characterize the topology of the unweighted contact networks as generated by the confined comminution process. We find this process gives rise to an ultimate contact network which exhibits a scale-free degree distribution and small world properties. In particular, if viewed in the context of networks through which information travels along shortest paths, we find that the global average of the node vulnerability decreases as the comminution process continues, with individual node vulnerability correlating with grain size. A possible application to the design of synthetic networks (e.g., sensor networks) is highlighted. Next we turn our attention to the physics of the granular comminution process and examine force transmission with respect to the weighted contact networks, where each link is weighted by the inverse magnitude of the normal force acting at the associated contact. We find that the strong forces (i.e., force chains) are transmitted along pathways in the network which are mainly following shortest-path routing protocols, as typically found, for example, in communication systems. Motivated by our earlier studies of the building blocks for self-organization in dense granular systems, we also explore the properties of the minimal contact cycles. The distribution of the contact strain energy intensity of 4-cycle motifs in the ultimate state of the confined comminution process is shown to be consistent with a scale-free distribution with infinite variance, thereby suggesting that 4-cycle arrangements of grains are capable of storing vast amounts of energy in their contacts without breaking. © 2011 American Physical Society.
Original languageEnglish
Article number021301
Pages (from-to)1-9
JournalPhysical Review E
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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