Curvature-induced stiffness and the spatial variation of wavelength in wrinkled sheets

Joseph D. Paulsen, Evan Hohlfeld, Hunter King, Jiangshui Huang, Zhanlong Qiu, Thomas P. Russell, Narayanan Menon, Dominic Vella, Benny Davidovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Wrinkle patterns in compressed thin sheets are ubiquitous in nature and technology, from the furrows on our foreheads to crinkly plant leaves, from ripples on plastic-wrapped objects to the protein film on milk. The current understanding of an elementary descriptor of wrinkles-their wavelength-is restricted to deformations that are parallel, spatially uniform, and nearly planar. However, most naturally occurring wrinkles do not satisfy these stipulations. Here we present a scheme that quantitatively explains the wrinkle wavelength beyond such idealized situations. We propose a local law that incorporates both mechanical and geometrical effects on the spatial variation of wrinkle wavelength. Our experiments on thin polymer films provide strong evidence for its validity. Understanding how wavelength depends on the properties of the sheet and the underlying liquid or elastic subphase is crucial for applications where wrinkles are used to sculpt surface topography, to measure properties of the sheet, or to infer forces applied to a film.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1144-1149
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 2 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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