Growth Patterns for Shape-Shifting Elastic Bilayers

October 17, 2017

Fig. 2. Inverse design of vegetable, animal, and mineral surfaces.*

Nature has a way of making complex shapes from a set of simple growth rules. The curve of a petal, the swoop of a branch, even the contours of our face are shaped by these processes. What if we could unlock those rules and reverse engineer nature's ability to grow an infinitely diverse array of shapes?

[Prof. L. Mahadevan and colleagues from SEAS and University of Texas at Austin] have done just that. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they demonstrate a technique to grow any target shape from any starting shape.

"Architect Louis Sullivan once said that ‘form ever follows function’," said L. Mahadevan, the Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics, of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and of Physics and senior author of the study. “But if one took the opposite perspective, that perhaps function should follow form, how can we inverse design form?”

Continue reading "Shaping animal, vegetable and mineral: Researchers develop mathematical techniques for designing shape-shifting shells" by Leah Burrows, October 16, 2017. https://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2017/10/shaping-animal-vegetable-and-mineral.

*Also read the PNAS paper: Wim M. van Reesa, Etienne Vougab, and L. Mahadevan, Growth patterns for shape-shifting elastic bilayers, PNAS 2017 | doi: 10.1073/pnas.1709025114.
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