Nonlocal rheology of dense granular flow in annular shear experiments
The flow of dense granular materials at low inertial numbers cannot be fully characterized by local rheological models; several nonlocal rheologies have recently been developed to address these shortcomings. To test the efficacy of these models across different packing fractions and shear rates, we perform experiments in a quasi-2D annular shear cell with a fixed outer wall and a rotating inner wall, using photoelastic particles. The apparatus is designed to measure both the stress ratio μ (the ratio of shear to normal stress) and the inertial number I through the use of a torque sensor, laser-cut leaf springs, and particle-tracking. We obtain μ(I) curves for several different packing fractions and rotation rates, and successfully find that a single set of model parameters is able to capture the full range of data collected once we account for frictional drag with the bottom plate. Our measurements confirm the prediction that there is a growing lengthscale at a finite value μs, associated with a frictional yield criterion. Finally, we newly identify the physical mechanism behind this transition at μs by observing that it corresponds to a drop in the susceptibility to force chain fluctuations.