Bending and twisting of soft materials by non-homogenous swelling

Douglas P. Holmes, Matthieu Roché, Tarun Sinha, Howard A. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Soft materials such as biological tissues and gels undergo morphological changes, motion, and instabilities when subjected to external stimuli. We examine how thin elastic plates undergo rapid bending and buckling instabilities after non-homogenous exposure to a favorable solvent that swells the network. An unconstrained beam bends along its length, while a circular disc bends and buckles with multiple curvatures. In the case of a disc, a large-amplitude transverse travelling wave rotates azimuthally around the disc. We provide theoretical interpretations inspired by the complementary thermal expansion problem of transient shape changes triggered by non-homogenous time-dependent heating, which allows collapse of time-dependent swelling data onto universal curves. Control of dynamical, swelling-induced shape changes provides new directions for the utilization of soft materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5188-5193
Number of pages6
JournalSoft matter
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 7 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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