Pleats in crystals on curved surfaces

William T.M. Irvine, Vincenzo Vitelli, Paul M. Chaikin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Hexagons can easily tile a flat surface, but not a curved one. Introducing heptagons and pentagons (defects with topological charge) makes it easier to tile curved surfaces; for example, soccer balls based on the geodesic domes of Buckminster Fuller have exactly 12 pentagons (positive charges). Interacting particles that invariably form hexagonal crystals on a plane exhibit fascinating scarred defect patterns on a sphere. Here we show that, for more general curved surfaces, curvature may be relaxed by pleats: uncharged lines of dislocations (topological dipoles) that vanish on the surface and play the same role as fabric pleats. We experimentally investigate crystal order on surfaces with spatially varying positive and negative curvature. On cylindrical capillary bridges, stretched to produce negative curvature, we observe a sequence of transitionsconsistent with our energetic calculationsfrom no defects to isolated dislocations, which subsequently proliferate and organize into pleats; finally, scars and isolated heptagons (previously unseen) appear. This fine control of crystal order with curvature will enable explorations of general theories of defects in curved spaces. From a practical viewpoint, it may be possible to engineer structures with curvature (such as waisted nanotubes and vaulted architecture) and to develop novel methods for soft lithography and directed self-assembly.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)947-951
    Number of pages5
    Issue number7326
    StatePublished - Dec 16 2010

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General


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