Effects of air on the segregation of particles in a shaken granular bed

Phys Rev Lett. 2003 Jul 4;91(1):014302. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.91.014302. Epub 2003 Jul 3.


Effects of interstitial air on the motions of a large intruder in a shaken granular bed are studied experimentally as a function of ambient air pressure, particle size of the bed, and the density of the intruder. It is found that the intruder always rises from the granular bed in the absence of air. However, the intruder can acquire both positive and negative buoyancy in the presence of air. Negative buoyancy can be observed only when both the density of the intruder and the particle size of the bed are small enough. This negative buoyancy can be explained by the unusual air pressure distribution found in the bed.