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Scientists iron out the physics of wrinkling

Wrinkling in the diamond window is caused by stress in the layers of diamond and glass. The diamond window in image a, which is smaller than the diamond window in image b, has a higher density of wrinkles. Credit: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology When we think of wrinkles, we usually envision the lines etched into our skin, for some an unwelcome reality and for others a proud sign of a life well-lived. In material science, wrinkles can also be either wanted or unwanted. But the physical factors that cause wrinkling to occur are not yet fully understood.

Now, in a paper recently published in Applied Physics Letters , researchers from the Mathematics, Mechanics, and Materials (MMM) Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have shown how wrinkles can be increased or reduced by altering the curvature at the edge of a material.

“Historically, scientists and engineers have focused on preventing wrinkling, which can adversely affect the performance of pressure sensors, aircraft panels, and lightweight spacecraft structures including deployable space booms and telescopes,” said Professor Eliot Fried, who leads the MMM unit. “But recent research has also shown that wrinkling can give materials useful properties. […]

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