Journal article

Marginal Stability Constrains Force and Pair Distributions at Random Close Packing

The requirement that packings of frictionless hard spheres, arguably the simplest structural glass, cannot be compressed by rearranging their network of contacts is shown to yield a new constraint on their microscopic structure. This constraint takes the form a bound between the distribution of contact forces P(f) and the pair distribution function g(r): if P(f)∼fθ and g(r)∼(r-σ 0) -γ, where σ 0 is the particle diameter, one finds that γ≥1/(2+θ). This bound plays a role similar to those found in some glassy materials with long-range interactions, such as the Coulomb gap in Anderson insulators or the distribution of local fields in mean-field spin glasses. There are grounds to believe that this bound is saturated, yielding a mechanism to explain the avalanches of rearrangements with power-law statistics that govern plastic flow in packings. © 2012 American Physical Society.


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