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Now he and colleagues including first author and Hayward's former doctoral student Nakul Bende and their UMass Amherst colleague theoretical physicist Christian Santangelo, with mechanician James Hanna and students at Virginia Tech, report that they have figured out how these "multi-stable" structures composed of stacked conical sections are loaded with pre-stress, pent-up tension that arises "because the material is forced into a closed ring that is more tightly curved than it naturally wants to be," as Hayward explains.
"What we discovered is that the very useful property of being mechanically stable in a bent configuration seems to require pre-stress. As far as we are aware, no one had ever looked at how and why such structures have stability in the bent state," he adds.
Principle - Applications - Device - Details - Issue
He points out, "It will be helpful for us to understand this fundamental principle, which is key when designing new applications. If you're going to build a reconfigurable device, it's important to know why it works, and when it might fail." Details appear in the current online issue of Soft Matter.
Hayward says that the mechanics that explain the ability of corrugated tubes to be extended and contracted in length are "pretty well established," as is the idea that moving materials between mechanically stable states requires overcoming an energy barrier. Playing with a variety of colorful bendable tubes on his desk, he demonstrates that the tube holds its shape in either state, and that...
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