Geometrically controlled snapping transitions in shells with curved creases

Curvature and mechanics are intimately connected for thin materials, and this coupling between geometry and physical properties is readily seen in folded structures from intestinal villi and pollen grains, to wrinkled membranes and programmable metamaterials. While the well-known rules and mechanisms behind folding a flat surface have been used to create deployable structures and shape transformable materials, folding of curved shells is still not fundamentally understood. Shells naturally deform by simultaneously bending and stretching, and while this coupling gives them great stability for engi- neering applications, it makes folding a surface of arbitrary curvature a non-trivial task. Here we discuss the geometry of folding a creased shell, and demonstrate theoretically the conditions under which it may fold smoothly. When these conditions are violated we show, using experiments and simulations, that shells undergo rapid snapping motion to fold from one stable configuration to another. Although material asymmetry is a proven mechanism for creating this bifurcation of stability, for the case of a creased shell, the inherent geometry itself serves as a barrier to folding. We discuss here how two fundamental geometric concepts, creases and curvature, combine to allow rapid transitions from one stable state to another. Independent of material system and length scale, the design rule that we introduce here explains how to generate snapping transitions in arbitrary surfaces, thus facilitating the creation of programmable multi-stable materials with fast actuation capabilities.

arxiv  pdf

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