Network Analysis of Particles and Grains

The arrangements of particles and forces in granular materials and particulate matter have a complex organization on multiple spatial scales that range from local structures to mesoscale and system-wide ones. This multiscale organization can affect how a material responds or reconfigures when exposed to external perturbations or loading. The theoretical study of particle-level, force-chain, domain, and bulk properties requires the development and application of appropriate mathematical, statistical, physical, and computational frameworks. Traditionally, granular materials have been investigated using particulate or continuum models, each of which tends to be implicitly agnostic to multiscale organization. Recently, tools from network science have emerged as powerful approaches for probing and characterizing heterogeneous architectures in complex systems, and a diverse set of methods have yielded fascinating insights into granular materials. In this paper, we review work on network-based approaches to studying granular materials (and particulate matter more generally) and explore the potential of such frameworks to provide a useful description of these materials and to enhance understanding of the underlying physics. We also outline a few open questions and highlight particularly promising future directions in the analysis and design of granular materials and other particulate matter.


Network Analysis of Particles and Grains
Lia Papadopoulos, Mason A. Porter, Karen E. Daniels, Danielle S. Bassett