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Swelling and Shaping of Soft Structures

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GFSW01 - Form and deformation in solid and fluid mechanics

Swelling-induced deformations of slender structures occur in many biological and industrial environments, and the shapes and patterns that emerge can vary across many length scales. The dynamics of fluid movement within elastic networks, and the interplay between a structure's geometry and its boundary conditions, play a crucial role in the morphology of growing tissues, the shrinkage of mud and moss, and the curling of cartilage, leaves, and pine cones. We aim to utilize swelling-induced deformations of soft mechanical structures to dynamically shape materials. Adaptive structures that can bend and fold in an origami-like manner provide advanced engineering opportunities for deployable structures, soft robotic arms, mechanical sensors, and rapid-prototyping of 3D elastomers. Swelling is a robust approach to structural change as it occurs naturally in humid environments and can easily be adapted into industrial design. Small volumes of fluid that interact favorably with a material can induce large, dramatic, and geometrically nonlinear deformations. This talk will examine the geometric nonlinearities that occur as slender structures are swollen – surfaces will crease, beams will bend and snap, circular plates will warp and twist, and fibers will coalesce and detach. I will describe the intricate connection between materials and geometry, and present a straightforward means to permanently morph 2D sheets into 3D shapes.

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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