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  • Granular Materials

    The Unusual Properties of Powders, Ball-Bearings, and M&Ms

    Granular Materials

    The Unusual Properties of Powders, Ball-Bearings, and M&Ms

    Speakers: Bruno Hancock (Pfizer Inc.), Mark Shattuck (The City College of New York), Paul Chaikin (New York University)Presented by the Soft Materials Discussion Group
    Reported by Angelo DePalma | Posted March 11, 2008

    Overview

    Everyone is familiar with granular materials—sand, powders, and collections of even larger particles. Yet these materials behave differently from other forms of matter such as gases, solids, and liquids, leading some scientists to believe that granularity may represent an additional state of matter. This is more than an academic argument. Understanding granular materials carries implications in fields ranging from civil engineering to pharmaceutical manufacturing.

    The speakers in a symposium held at the Academy on January 23, 2008, represent a cross-section of research on granular materials. Bruno Hancock of Pfizer provided an overview of segregation and handling issues for granular pharmaceutical ingredients. Mark Shattuck of the City College of New York took the discussion to a more theoretical level, describing the behavior of granular "gases" and "crystals" under various stresses. Paul Chaikin of New York University presented an amazing finding in an unusual granular system—containers of M&M's candies.

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