3D bulk measurements of the force distribution in a compressed emulsion system
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In particulate materials, such as emulsions and granular media, a jammed system results if particles are packed together so that all particles are touching their neighbours, provided the density is sufficiently high. This paper studies through experiment, theory and simulation, the forces that particles exert upon one another in such a jammed state. Confocal microscopy of a compressed polydisperse emulsion provides a direct 3D measurement of the dispersed phase morphology within the bulk of the sample. This allows the determination of the probability distribution of interdroplet forces, P(f) where f is the magnitude of the force, from local droplet deformations. In parallel, the simplest form of the Boltzmann equation for the probability of force distributions predicts P(f) to be of the form e–f/p, where p is proportional to the mean force for large forces. This result is in good agreement with experimental and simulated data.