Excess floppy modes and multibranched mechanisms in metamaterials with symmetries
Floppy modes—deformations that cost zero energy—are central to the mechanics of a wide class of systems. For disordered systems, such as random networks and particle packings, it is well-understood how the number of floppy modes is controlled by the topology of the connections. Here we uncover that symmetric geometries, present in, e.g., mechanical metamaterials, can feature an unlimited number of excess floppy modes that are absent in generic geometries, and in addition can support floppy modes that are multibranched. We study the number Δ of excess floppy modes by comparing generic and symmetric geometries with identical topologies, and show that Δ is extensive, peaks at intermediate connection densities, and exhibits mean-field scaling. We then develop an approximate yet accurate cluster counting algorithm that captures these findings. Finally, we leverage our insights to design metamaterials with multiple folding mechanisms.