Force-chain finder: A software tool for the recursive detection of force-chains in granular materials via minor principal stress
Force transmission in granular media occurs through an inhomogeneous network of inter-particle contacts referred to as force-chains. A thorough understanding of the structure of these chains is indispensable for a better comprehension of the macroscopic signatures they generate. This paper introduces Force-Chain Finder (FCF), an open-source software tool designed for detecting force-chains in granular materials. Leveraging the stress tensor computed for each particle based on its interactions with neighbouring particles, the tool effectively identifies the magnitude and direction of the most compressive principal stress. Through a recursive traversal of particles and their neighbours, force-chains are robustly detected based on the alignment of the principal stress directions, which is decided by a parameter α (an angle in radians). The software provides a comprehensive suite of post-processing features, including the exportation of results in different formats, enabling detailed analysis of specific regions and dynamic phenomena. Additionally, the software facilitates the computation of statistical measures pertaining to chain size and population. By streamlining the identification and characterization of force-chains within discrete element method (DEM) simulations, this tool significantly enhances the efficiency and accuracy of force-chain analysis. Thus, the software promotes deeper insights into the behaviour of granular materials by enabling researchers to effortlessly detect and analyse force-chains.