Problems at the Nexus of Geometry and Soft Matter: Rings, Ribbons and Shells

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Problems at the Nexus of Geometry and Soft Matter: Rings, Ribbons and Shells

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Title: Problems at the Nexus of Geometry and Soft Matter: Rings, Ribbons and Shells
Author: Yong, Ee Hou
Citation: Yong, Ee Hou. 2012. Problems at the Nexus of Geometry and Soft Matter: Rings, Ribbons and Shells. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: There has been an increasing appreciation of the role in which elasticity plays in soft matter. The understanding of many shapes and conformations of complex systems during equilibrium or non-equilibrium processes, ranging from the macroscopic to the microscopic, can be explained to a large extend by the theory of elasticity. We are motivated by older studies on how topology and shape couple in different novel systems and in this thesis, we present novel systems and tools for gaining fundamental insights into the wonderful world of geometry and soft matter. We first look at how defects, topology and geometry come together in the physics of thin membranes. Topological constraint plays a fundamental role on the morphology of crumpling membranes of genus zero and suggest how different fundamental shapes, such as platonic solids, can arise through a crumpling process. We present a way of classifying disclinations using a generalized “Casper-Klug” coordination number. We show that there exist symmetry breaking during the crumpling process, which can be described using Landau theory and that thin membranes preserve the memory of their defects. Next we consider the problem of the shapes of Bacillus spores and show how one can understand the folding patterns seen in bacterial coats by looking at the simplified problem of two concentric rings connected via springs. We show that when the two rings loses contact, rucks spontaneous formed leading to the complex folding patterns. We also develop a simple system of an extensible elastic on a spring support to study bifurcation in system that has adhesion. We explain the bifurcation diagram and show how it differs from the classical results. Lastly, we investigate the statistical mechanics of the Sadowsky ribbon in a similar spirit to the famous Kratky-Porod model. We present a detail theoretical and numerical calculations of the Sadowsky ribbon under the effect of external force and torsion. This model may be able to explain new and novel biopolymers ranging from actin, microtubules to rod-like viruses that lies outside the scope of WLC model. This concludes the thesis.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9414558
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