The paper “Helicoids, Wrinkles and Loops in Twisted Ribbon” was published in the October 25 issue of Physical Review Letters by Arshad Kudrolli, Jan and Larry Landry University Professor of Physics at Clark University, and Julien Chopin, former post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Physics. The authors presented an integrated phase diagram representing the observed shapes and transitions of a flat elastic ribbon that displays a tendency to twist when stretched.
Elasticity refers to the ability of a material to return to its original shape and size after being twisted or stretched, a property that makes it possible for items like rubber bands and spandex fabric to grip and conform to the objects they surround, be it a bundle of papers or the human figure. Product developers want to be able to predict how a given elastic material will behave under the types of stress it may experience during its intended use; however, quantifying and characterizing this behavior has been a challenge.
Kudrolli and Chopin’s research determined that only two parameters, the initial tension placed on the ribbon and the angle at which it was twisted around its central axis, are necessary to describe the resulting ribbon shapes, which included helicoids (spirals), buckled helicoids and loops that occurred in the elastic ribbon.
Physical Review Letters is known as “the world’s foremost physics letters journal, providing rapid publication of short reports of significant fundamental research in all fields of physics.”