Apr 4, 2023

How Order Emerges in Bendy Beam Bunches

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, materials

The behavior of a collection of squeezed elastic beams is determined by geometry, not by complex forces.

When a collection of thin elastic beams—such as toothbrush bristles or grass—is compressed vertically, the individual elements will buckle and bump into one another, forming patterns. Experiments and numerical simulations now show that basic geometry controls how order emerges in these patterns [1]. The results could be useful for designing flexible materials and for understanding interactions among flexible structures in nature, such as DNA strands in cells.

Studies of bending and buckling have often focused on the behavior of a single membrane, such as a thin disc of polystyrene fabric, a sheet of crumpled paper, or even a bell pepper. But few models have tackled the dynamics of a group of many elastic objects.

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