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We introduce topological methods for quantifying spatially heterogeneous dynamics, and use these tools to analyze particle-tracking data for a quasi-two-dimensional granular system of air-fluidized beads on approach to jamming. In particular, we define two overlap order parameters, which quantify the correlation between particle configurations at different times, based on a Voronoi construction and the persistence in the resulting cells and nearest neighbors. Temporal fluctuations in the decay of the persistent area and bond order parameters define two alternative dynamic four-point susceptibilities XA(τ) and XB(τ), well suited for characterizing spatially heterogeneous dynamics. These are analogous to the standard four-point dynamic susceptibility X4(l,τ), but where the space dependence is fixed uniquely by topology rather than by discretionary choice of cutoff function. While these three susceptibilities yield characteristic time scales that are somewhat different, they give domain sizes for the dynamical heterogeneities that are in good agreement and that diverge on approach to jamming.
Date Posted: 19 May 2011
This document has been peer reviewed.