Solitary waves in a chain of beads under Hertz contact

Abstract : We study experimentally the propagation of high-amplitude compressional waves in a chain of beads in contact, submitted or not to a small static force. In such a system, solitary waves have been theoretically predicted by Nesterenko J. Appl. Mech. Tech. Phys. USSR 5, 733 1984. We have built an impact generator in order to create high-amplitude waves in the chain. We observe the propagation of isolated nonlinear pulses, measure their velocity as a function of their maximum amplitude, for different applied static forces, and record their shape. In all experiments, we find good agreement between our observations and the theoretical predictions of the above reference, without using any adjustable parameter in the data analysis. We also show that the velocity measurements taken at three different nonzero applied static forces all lie on a single curve, when expressed in rescaled variables. The size of the pulses is typically one-tenth the total length of the chain. All the measurements support the identification of these isolated nonlinear pulses with the solitary waves predicted by Nesterenko. S1063-651X9704211-6
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Christophe Coste, Eric Falcon, Stephan Fauve. Solitary waves in a chain of beads under Hertz contact. Physical Review E , American Physical Society (APS), 1997, 56, pp.6104 - 6117. ⟨10.1103/PhysRevE.56.6104⟩. ⟨hal-01406853⟩

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