Packing of elastic wires in flexible shells
Computational Physics for Engineering Materials, IfB, ETH Zürich - Stefano-Franscini-Platz 3, CH-8093 Zürich, Switzerland
Received: 9 October 2015
Accepted: 15 November 2015
The packing problem of long thin filaments that are injected into confined spaces is of fundamental interest for physicists and biologists alike. How linear threads pack and coil is well known only for the ideal case of rigid containers, though. Here, we force long elastic rods into flexible spatial confinement borne by an elastic shell to examine under which conditions recently acquired knowledge on wire packing in rigid spheres breaks down. We find that unlike in rigid cavities, friction plays a key role by giving rise to the emergence of two distinct packing patterns. At low friction, the wire densely coils into an ordered toroidal bundle with semi-ellipsoidal cross-section, while at high friction, it packs into a highly disordered, hierarchic structure. These two morphologies are shown to be separated by a continuous phase transition. Our findings demonstrate the dramatic impact of friction and confinement elasticity on filamentous packing and might drive future research on such systems in physics, biology and even medical technology toward including these mutually interacting effects.
PACS: 46.70.Hg – Membranes, rods, and strings / 05.70.Fh – Phase transitions: general studies / 61.41.+e – Polymers, elastomers, and plastics
© EPLA, 2015