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Finding bridges in packings of colloidal spheres

Jenkins, Matthew and Haw, Mark D. and Barker, Gary and Poon, Wilson and Egelhaaf, Stefan (2011) Finding bridges in packings of colloidal spheres. Soft Matter, 7 (2). pp. 684-690. ISSN 1744-683X

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We identify putative load-bearing structures (bridges) in experimental colloidal systems studied by confocal microscopy. Bridges are co-operative structures that have been used to explain stability and inhomogeneous force transmission in simulated granular packings with a range of densities. We show that bridges similar to those found in granular simulations are present in real experimental colloidal packings. We describe critically the bridge-finding procedure for real experimental data and propose a new criterion-Lowest Mean Squared Separation (LSQS)-for selecting optimum stabilisations.