Granular Matter

, 20:28 | Cite as

A new contact model for the discrete element method simulation of \(\hbox {TiO}_2\) nanoparticle films under mechanical load

  • Jens Laube
  • Valentin Baric
  • Samir Salameh
  • Lutz Mädler
  • Lucio Colombi Ciacchi
Original Paper


We develop a novel coarse-grained contact model for Discrete Element Method simulations of \(\hbox {TiO}_2\) nanoparticle films subjected to mechanical stress. All model elements and parameters are derived in a self-consistent and physically sound way from all-atom Molecular Dynamics simulations of interacting particles and surfaces. In particular, the nature of atomic-scale friction and dissipation effects is taken into account by explicit modelling of the surface features and water adsorbate layers that strongly mediate the particle-particle interactions. The quantitative accuracy of the coarse-grained model is validated against all-atom simulations of \(\hbox {TiO}_2\) nanoparticle agglomerates under tensile stress. Moreover, its predictive power is demonstrated with calculations of force-displacement curves of entire nanoparticle films probed with force spectroscopy. The simulation results are compared with Atomic Force Microscopy and Transmission Electron Microscopy experiments.


Flame spray pyrolysis AFM force spectroscopy Multiscale modelling Nanoparticle agglomerates 



We acknowledge fruitful discussion with S. Luding (University of Twente, The Netherlands) and M. Kappl (MPI for Polymer Research Mainz, Germany). The AFM/TEM investigations have been performed by S. Salameh during a research stay in the group of J.W. Seo (KU Leuven, Belgium). This work has been funded by the DFG within the SPP 1486 “Partikel im Kontakt” (Grants CO 1043/3 and MA 3333/3). Computational time has been provided by the HLRN supercomputing centre at Hannover and Berlin, Germany.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hybrid Materials Interfaces Group, Faculty of Production Engineering, Bremen Center for Computational Materials Science, MAPEX Center for Materials and ProcessesUniversity of BremenBremenGermany
  2. 2.Leibniz-Institut für Werkstofforientierte Technologien - IWT, Faculty of Production Engineering, MAPEX Center for Materials and ProcessesUniversity of BremenBremenGermany
  3. 3.Product and Process Engineering Group, Department of Chemical EngineeringDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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