(Ir)reversibility in dense granular systems driven by oscillating forces†
We use computer simulations to study highly dense systems of granular particles that are driven by oscillating forces. We implement different dissipation mechanisms that are used to extract the injected energy. In particular, the action of a simple local Stokes' drag is compared with non-linear and history-dependent frictional forces that act either between particle pairs or between particles and an external container wall. The Stokes' drag leads to particle motion that is periodic with the driving force, even at high densities around close packing where particles undergo frequent collisions. With the introduction of inter-particle frictional forces this “interacting absorbing state” is destroyed and particles start to diffuse around. By reducing the density of the material we go through another transition to a “non-interacting” absorbing state, where particles independently follow the force-induced oscillations without collisions. In the system with particle–wall frictional interactions this transition has signs of a discontinuous phase transition. It is accompanied by a diverging relaxation time, but not by a vanishing order parameter, which rather jumps to zero at the transition.