Gardner-like transition from variable to persistent force contacts in granular crystals
We report experimental evidence of a Gardner-like transition from variable to persistent force contacts in a two-dimensional, bidisperse granular crystal by analyzing the variability of both particle positions and force networks formed under uniaxial compression. Starting from densities just above the freezing transition, and for variable amounts of additional compression, we compare configurations to both their own initial state, and to an ensemble of equivalent, reinitialized states. This protocol shows that force contacts are largely undetermined when the density is below a Gardner-like transition, after which they gradually transition to being persistent, being fully so only above the jamming point. We associate the disorder that underlies this effect to the size of the microscopic asperities of the photoelastic disks used, by analogy to other mechanisms that have been previously predicted theoretically.