Topology, Geometry, and Mechanics of Strongly Stretched and Twisted Filaments: Solenoids, Plectonemes, and Artificial Muscle Fibers

Nicholas Charles, Mattia Gazzola, L. Mahadevan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Soft elastic filaments that can be stretched, bent, and twisted exhibit a range of topologically and geometrically complex morphologies. Recently, a number of experiments have shown how to use these building blocks to create filament-based artificial muscles that use the conversion of writhe to extension or contraction, exposing the connection between topology, geometry, and mechanics. Here, we combine numerical simulations of soft elastic filaments that account for geometric nonlinearities and self-contact to map out the basic structures underlying artificial muscle fibers in a phase diagram that is a function of the extension and twist density. We then use ideas from computational topology to track the interconversion of link, twist, and writhe in these geometrically complex physical structures to explain the physical principles underlying artificial muscle fibers and provide guidelines for their design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number208003
JournalPhysical review letters
Volume123
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 13 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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