Granular packings of elongated faceted particles deposited under gravity

We report experimental and theoretical results of the effect that particle shape has on the packing properties of granular materials. We have systematically measured the particle angular distribution, the cluster size distribution and the stress profiles of ensembles of faceted elongated particles deposited in a bidimensional box. Stress transmission through this granular system has been numerically simulated using a two-dimensional model of irregular particles. For grains of maximum symmetry (squares), the stress propagation localizes and forms chain-like forces analogous to those observed for granular materials composed of spheres. For thick layers of grains, a pressure saturation is observed for deposit depths beyond a characteristic length. This scenario correlates with packing morphology and can be understood in terms of stochastic models of aggregation and random multiplicative processes. As grains elongate and lose their symmetry, stress propagation is strongly affected. Lateral force transmission becomes less favored than vertical transfer, and hence, an increase in the pressure develops with depth, hindering force saturation.