Though ubiquitous in our daily lives, crumpling is a challenging process to understand and predict: As a thin sheet is confined, stresses spontaneously localize to produce a complex network of vertices and ridges in the sheet. However, past studies have uncovered surprising mathematical order to the length of creases that form as a sheet is crumpled repeatedly, despite the disordered nature of the process. We propose a possible physical explanation for this finding by relating crumpling to a fragmentation process which dictates the subdivision of a sheet’s surface into facets over time. We also explore the robustness of these findings with a computational model of thin elastoplastic sheets, which enables us to study real-time spatial damage evolution. The suitability of a fragmentation-based model in explaining crumpling statistics suggests the possibility of universal behavior uniting a broader class of disordered systems.
Jovana Andrejevic is a fifth year PhD student in Applied Physics in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. She received her bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics at Cornell University in 2016. As a member of Prof. Chris Rycroft’s research group, Jovana studies the crumpling dynamics of thin, elastic sheets. She is interested in the intersection of physics-based modeling and data-driven methods to recognize patterns and structure in complex, disordered systems.