Molecular dynamic simulations of a low number 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).
- Received 16 November 1998
©1999 American Physical Society