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Chiral topographic instability in shrinking spheres

Fan Xu's picture


Many biological structures exhibit intriguing morphological patterns adapted to environmental cues, which contribute to their important biological functions and also inspire material designs. Here, we report a chiral wrinkling topography in shrinking core–shell spheres, as observed in excessively dehydrated passion fruit and experimentally demonstrated in silicon core–shells under air extraction. Upon shrinkage deformation, the surface initially buckles into a buckyball pattern (periodic hexagons and pentagons) and then transforms into a chiral mode. The neighbouring chiral cellular patterns can further interact with each other, resulting in secondary symmetry breaking and the formation of two types of topological network. We develop a core–shell model and derive a universal scaling law to understand the underlying morphoelastic mechanism and to effectively describe and predict such chiral symmetry breaking far beyond the critical instability threshold. Moreover, we show experimentally that the chiral characteristic adapted to local perturbation can be harnessed to effectively and stably grasp small-sized objects of various shapes and made of different stiff and soft materials. Our results not only reveal chiral instability topographies, providing fundamental insights into the surface morphogenesis of the deformed core–shell spheres that are ubiquitous in the real world, but also demonstrate potential applications of adaptive grasping based on delicate chiral localization.

Fan Xu*, Yangchao Huang, Shichen Zhao, Xi-Qiao Feng*,

Nature Comput. Sci. 2, 632-640, 2022.

This work has been selected as a Cover story and highlighted as News & Views (Bio-inspired adaptive grasper by chiral wrinkling) by Nature Comput. Sci. 2, 624-625, 2022.


L. Roy Xu's picture

To Fan,


From Roy

Fan Xu's picture

Thank you Roy!



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