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Published February 2014 | public
Journal Article

Extracting inter-particle forces in opaque granular materials: Beyond photoelasticity


This paper presents the first example of inter-particle force inference in real granular materials using an improved version of the methodology known as the Granular Element Method (GEM). GEM combines experimental imaging techniques with equations governing particle behavior to allow force inference in cohesionless materials with grains of arbitrary shape, texture, and opacity. This novel capability serves as a useful tool for experimentally characterizing granular materials, and provides a new means for investigating force networks. In addition to an experimental example, this paper presents a precise mathematical formulation of the inverse problem involving the governing equations and illustrates solution strategies.

Additional Information

© 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Received 18 February 2013. Received in revised form 23 July 2013. Accepted 17 September 2013. Available online 4 October 2013. The authors would like to acknowledge our colleagues in Grenoble, France for fruitful discussions on GEM as a method. Specifically, we would like to acknowledge illuminating discussions with Denis Caillerie and Gioacchino (Cino) Viggiani from Laboratoire 3SR. Also, partial support for this research was provided by the U.S. Department of Defense under AFOSR Center of Excellence award no. FA9550-12-1-0091 and DTRA award no. HDTRA1-12-1-0041. This support is gratefully acknowledged.

Additional details

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October 26, 2023