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.