Dipoles in thin sheets
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A flat elastic sheet may contain pointlike conical singularities that carry a metrical “charge” of Gaussian curvature. Adding such elementary defects to a sheet allows one to make many shapes, in a manner broadly analogous to the familiar multipole construction in electrostatics. However, here the underlying field theory is non-linear, and superposition of intrinsic defects is non-trivial as it must respect the immersion of the resulting surface in three dimensions. We consider a “charge-neutral” dipole composed of two conical singularities of opposite sign. Unlike the relatively simple electrostatic case, here there are two distinct stable minima and an infinity of unstable equilibria. We determine the shapes of the minima and evaluate their energies in the thin-sheet regime where bending dominates over stretching. Our predictions are in surprisingly good agreement with experiments on paper sheets.
KeywordsSoft Matter: Interfacial Phenomena and Nanostructured Surfaces
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