Jamming as an extreme limit of a solid


Andrea Liu (University of Pennsylvania)


When we first learn the physics of solids, we typically are taught the theory of perfect crystals. It is only emphasized later that in the real world, all solids are imperfect. The perfect crystal is an invaluable abstraction because we can describe many real solids in terms of perturbations (i.e., defects) about this extreme limit. But such an approach fails to describe a glass, another ubiquitous form of rigid matter. I will argue that in many senses the marginally jammed solid at the jamming transition constitutes an extreme limit that is an opposite pole to perfect order. Like the perfect crystal, it is an abstraction that does not exist in the real world but that can be understood in depth and used, equally well as a crystal, as a starting place for understanding the properties of solids.

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