Complex pathways and memory in compressed corrugated sheets

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DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2111436118
Reference H. Bense and M. van Hecke, Complex pathways and memory in compressed corrugated sheets, PNAS 118, 50: e2111436118: 1-7 (2021)
Group Mechanical Metamaterials

Describing the response of materials is central to physics, yet the complex response of frustrated media—featuring multistep pathways which can be encoded by sequences of switching material bits—is poorly understood. Here we introduce compression of corrugated elastic sheets to experimentally observe and manipulate these bits, their interactions, and their pathways. We apply spatial gradients at the boundaries as a general technique to control the pathways. Besides mechanical memory, where the sheet remembers earlier extremal driving, we observe a pathway where interactions between material bits produce an elementary computation: counting to two. Our work paves the way for controlling material bits in other systems and suggests a tight link between computations and the complex response of frustrated matter.