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Polymorphic Elastocapillarity: Kinetically Reconfigurable Self-Assembly of Hair Bundles by Varying the Drain Rate

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posted on 08.05.2018, 00:00 by Dongwoo Shin, Sameh Tawfick
We report various patterns formed by draining liquid from hair bundles. Hair-like fibers arranged in triangular bundles self-assemble into various cross sections when immersed in liquid then removed. The combinations of their length and the kinetics, represented by the drain rate, lead to various polymorphic self-assemblies: concave hexagonal, triangular, circular, or inverted triangular patterns. The equilibrium of these shapes is predicted by elastocapillarity, the balance between the bending strain energy of the hairs and the surface energy of the liquid. Shapes with a larger strain energy, such as the inverted triangular bundles, are obtained at the higher liquid drain rates. This polymorphic self-assembly is fully reversible by rewetting and draining and can have applications in multifunctional dynamic textures.