Crumples as a Generic Stress-Focusing Instability in Confined Sheets

Yousra Timounay, Raj De, Jessica L. Stelzel, Zachariah S. Schrecengost, Monica M. Ripp, Joseph D. Paulsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Thin elastic solids are easily deformed into a myriad of three-dimensional shapes, which may contain sharp localized structures as in a crumpled candy wrapper or have smooth and diffuse features like the undulating edge of a flower. Anticipating and controlling these morphologies is crucial to a variety of applications involving textiles, synthetic skins, and inflatable structures. Here, we show that a "wrinkle-to-crumple"transition, previously observed in specific settings, is a ubiquitous response for confined sheets. This unified picture is borne out of a suite of model experiments on polymer films confined to liquid interfaces with spherical, hyperbolic, and cylindrical geometries, which are complemented by experiments on macroscopic membranes inflated with gas. We use measurements across this wide range of geometries, boundary conditions, and length scales to quantify several robust morphological features of the crumpled phase, and we build an empirical phase diagram for crumple formation that disentangles the competing effects of curvature and compression. Our results suggest that crumples are a generic microstructure that emerge at large curvatures due to a competition of elastic and substrate energies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021008
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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