Estimating Colloidal Contact Model Parameters Using Quasi-Static Compression Simulations

Vincent Bürger, Heiko Briesen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


For colloidal particles interacting in suspensions, clusters, or gels, contact models should attempt to include all physical phenomena experimentally observed. One critical point when formulating a contact model is to ensure that the interaction parameters can be easily obtained from experiments. Experimental determinations of contact parameters for particles either are based on bulk measurements for simulations on the macroscopic scale or require elaborate setups for obtaining tangential parameters such as using atomic force microscopy. However, on the colloidal scale, a simple method is required to obtain all interaction parameters simultaneously. This work demonstrates that quasi-static compression of a fractal-like particle network provides all the necessary information to obtain particle interaction parameters using a simple spring-based contact model. These springs provide resistances against all degrees of freedom associated with two-particle interactions, and include critical forces or moments where such springs break, indicating a bond-breakage event. A position-based cost function is introduced to show the identifiability of the two-particle contact parameters, and a discrete, nonlinear, and non-gradient-based global optimization method (simplex with simulated annealing, SIMPSA) is used to minimize the cost function calculated from deviations of particle positions. Results show that, in principle, all necessary contact parameters for an arbitrary particle network can be identified, although numerical efficiency as well as experimental noise must be addressed when applying this method. Such an approach lays the groundwork for identifying particle-contact parameters from a position-based particle analysis for a colloidal system using just one experiment. Spring constants also directly influence the time step of the discrete-element method, and a detailed knowledge of all necessary interaction parameters will help to improve the efficiency of colloidal particle simulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10784-10794
Number of pages11
Issue number41
StatePublished - 18 Oct 2016


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