Direct observation of the temporal and spatial dynamics during crumpling

Nat Mater. 2010 Dec;9(12):993-7. doi: 10.1038/nmat2893. Epub 2010 Nov 14.


Crumpling occurs when a thin deformable sheet is crushed under an external load or grows within a confining geometry. Crumpled sheets have large resistance to compression and their elastic energy is focused into a complex network of localized structures. Different aspects of crumpling have been studied theoretically, experimentally and numerically. However, very little is known about the dynamic evolution of three-dimensional spatial configurations of crumpling sheets. Here we present direct measurements of the configurations of a fully elastic sheet evolving during the dynamic process of crumpling under isotropic confinement. We observe the formation of a network of ridges and vertices into which the energy is localized. The network is dynamic. Its evolution involves movements of ridges and vertices. Although the characteristics of ridges agree with theoretical predictions, the measured accumulation of elastic energy within the entire sheet is considerably slower than predicted. This could be a result of the observed network rearrangement during crumpling.

Publication types

  • Letter