The contact force distribution in stressed grain piles under simple compaction or gravity has been studied intensively in recent years. In the present investigation, by performing discrete element simulations, it is found that the contact force distribution in a stressed granular packing can be described by a generalized form the Second Law of Thermodynamics involving minimization of a free energy functional containing an energy and an entropy component. The relative importance of energy and entropy is controlled by a parameter known as the “mechanical temperature”.
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Ngan, A.H.W. On Probabilistic Distribution of Forces in Granular Materials: A Statistical Mechanics Approach. MRS Online Proceedings Library 759, 22 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-759-MM2.2