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Numerical modelling of rough particle contacts subject to normal and tangential loading

Nadimi, S., Otsubo, M., Fonseca, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-7654-6005 & O'Sullivan, C. (2019). Numerical modelling of rough particle contacts subject to normal and tangential loading. Granular Matter, 21(4), article number 108. doi: 10.1007/s10035-019-0970-y


Our understanding of the mechanics of contact behaviour for interacting particles has been developed mostly assuming that surfaces are smooth. However, real particles of interest in engineering science are generally rough. While recent studies have considered the influence of roughness on the normal force–displacement relationship, surface roughness was quantified using only a single scalar measure, disregarding the topology of the surface. There are some conflicting arguments concerning the effect of roughness on the tangential or shear force–displacement relationship. In this study, optical interferometry data are used to generate the surface topology for input into a 3D finite element model. This model is used to investigate the sensitivity of the normal force–displacement response to the surface topology by considering different surfaces with similar overall roughness values. The effect of surface roughness on the tangential force–displacement relationship and the influence of loading history are also explored. The results indicate that quantifying roughness using a single value, such as the root mean square height of roughness, Sq, is insufficient to predict the effect of roughness upon stiffness. It is also shown that in the absence of interlocking, rough particle surfaces exhibit a lower frictional resistance in comparison with equivalent smooth surfaces.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Publisher Keywords: Contact mechanics, Surface roughness, Numerical modelling, Particle-scale behaviour
Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
SWORD Depositor:
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