Geometrically controlled snapping transitions in shells with curved creases

Nakul Prabhakar Bende, Arthur A. Evans, Sarah Innes-Gold, Luis A. Marin, Itai Cohen, Ryan C. Hayward, Christian D. Santangelo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Curvature and mechanics are intimately connected for thin materials, and this coupling between geometry and physical properties is readily seen in folded structures from intestinal villi and pollen grains to wrinkled membranes and programmable metamaterials. While the well-known rules and mechanisms behind folding a flat surface have been used to create deployable structures and shape transformable materials, folding of curved shells is still not fundamentally understood. Shells naturally deform by simultaneously bending and stretching, and while this coupling gives them great stability for engineering applications, itmakes folding a surface of arbitrary curvature a nontrivial task. Here we discuss the geometry of folding a creased shell, and demonstrate theoretically the conditions under which it may fold smoothly. When these conditions are violated we show, using experiments and simulations, that shells undergo rapid snapping motion to fold from one stable configuration to another. Althoughmaterial asymmetry is a provenmechanism for creating this bifurcation of stability, for the case of a creased shell, the inherent geometry itself serves as a barrier to folding. We discuss here how two fundamental geometric concepts, creases and curvature, combine to allow rapid transitions from one stable state to another. Independent of material system and length scale, the design rule that we introduce here explains how to generate snapping transitions in arbitrary surfaces, thus facilitating the creation of programmable multistable materials with fast actuation capabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11175-11180
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number36
StatePublished - Sep 8 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Buckling instability
  • Creased shell
  • Origami inspired
  • Programmable matter
  • Snap-through

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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