Shell structures with “magic numbers” of spheres in a swirled dish

Karsten Kötter, Eric Goles, Mario Markus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Molecular dynamic simulations of a low number [Formula Presented] of spheres in a swirled dish yield solidlike shell structures with stable rings. In contrast to known granular media, solidification occurs only at singular values of N: 7, 8, 12, 14, 19, 21, 30, 37, 40. Otherwise, we obtain intermittent switching of particles between rings — the average switching time scaling exponentially with a control parameter — or fluidlike disorder. Stable shell structures can be classified by particular geometrical arrangements (one-centered hexagonal, one-centered “quasicircular,” three centered, and four centered).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7182-7185
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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