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Phys Rev Lett. 2012 Oct 5;109(14):144301. Epub 2012 Oct 5.

Geometry-induced rigidity in nonspherical pressurized elastic shells.

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Elasticity, Geometry and Statistics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


We present results from an experimental investigation of the indentation of nonspherical pressurized elastic shells with a positive Gauss curvature. A predictive framework is proposed that rationalizes the dependence of the local rigidity of an indented shell on the curvature in the neighborhood of the locus of indentation, the in-out pressure differential, and the material properties. In our approach, we combine classic theory for spherical shells with recent analytical developments for the pressurized case, and proceed, for the most part, by analogy, guided by our own experiments. By way of example, our results elucidate why an eggshell is significantly stiffer when compressed along its major axis, as compared to doing so along its minor axis. The prominence of geometry in this class of problems points to the relevance and applicability of our findings over a wide range of length scales.

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