Amorphous packings of spheres have been intensely investigated in order to understand the mechanical and flow behaviour of dense granular matter, and to explore universal aspects of the transition from fluid to structurally arrested or jammed states. Considerable attention has recently been focussed on anisotropic packings of frictional grains generated by shear deformation leading to shear jamming, which occurs below the jamming density for isotropic packings of frictionless grains. With the aim of disentangling the role of shear deformation induced structures and friction in generating shear jamming, we study sheared assemblies of frictionless spheres computationally, over a wide range of densities, extending far below the isotropic jamming point. We demonstrate the emergence of a variety of geometric features characteristic of jammed packings with the increase of shear strain. The average contact number and the distributions of contact forces suggest the presence of a threshold density, well below the isotropic jamming point, above which a qualitative change occurs in the jamming behaviour of sheared configurations. We show that above this threshold density, friction stabilizes the sheared configurations we generate. Our results thus reveal the emergence of geometric features characteristic of jammed states as a result of shear deformation alone, while friction is instrumental in stabilising packings over a range of densities below the isotropic jamming point.
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