Andrew Croll, associate professor of physics, and Wenjie Xia, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, collaborated to publish a paper in the scientific journal Matter.
The paper, titled “Sticky Crumpled Matter,” received research contributions from students Wathsala Jayawardana, Theresa Elder, Yangchao Liao and Zhaofan Li.
According to Croll and Xia, crumpled sheets of material have long fascinated researchers with their strength and light weight. The paper examines how the strength of a crumpled ball must be related to its complicated internal structure. They found that adding stickiness to the sheet causes compressive strength to increase by roughly one order of magnitude but it does not change the governing force scaling. The work shows how crumpled matter could serve as a stronger and less expensive replacement for solid foams in many applications.
“Wenjie’s group created a computer model to help see what was happening inside the material,” Croll said. “They found the same increase in strength happens with graphene or atomically thin sheets. They could also show that the additional strength occurs because the stickiness forces the sheet to stretch more, rather than just bending.”
The study paves the way for materials-by-design of high-performance light-weight crumpled materials via surface engineering.
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