Wrinkles and folds in a fluid-supported sheet of finite size

Oz Oshri, Fabian Brau, Haim Diamant

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A laterally confined thin elastic sheet lying on a liquid substrate displays regular undulations, called wrinkles, characterized by a spatially extended energy distribution and a well-defined wavelength λ. As the confinement increases, the deformation energy is progressively localized into a single narrow fold. An exact solution for the deformation of an infinite sheet was previously found, indicating that wrinkles in an infinite sheet are unstable against localization for arbitrarily small confinement. We present an extension of the theory to sheets of finite length L, accounting for the experimentally observed wrinkle-to-fold transition. We derive an exact solution for the periodic deformation in the wrinkled state, and an approximate solution for the localized, folded state. We find that a second-order transition between these two states occurs at a critical confinement ΔF = λ2/L.

Original languageEnglish
Article number052408
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 29 May 2015


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