A double perturbation method of postbuckling analysis in 2D curved beams for assembly of 3D ribbon-shaped structures

Zhichao Fan, Keh Chih Hwang*, John A. Rogers, Yonggang Huang, Yihui Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Mechanically-guided 3D assembly based on controlled, compressive buckling represents a promising, emerging approach for forming complex 3D mesostructures in advanced materials. Due to the versatile applicability to a broad set of material types (including device-grade single-crystal silicon) over length scales from nanometers to centimeters, a wide range of novel applications have been demonstrated in soft electronic systems, interactive bio-interfaces as well as tunable electromagnetic devices. Previously reported 3D designs relied mainly on finite element analyses (FEA) as a guide, but the massive numerical simulations and computational efforts necessary to obtain the assembly parameters for a targeted 3D geometry prevent rapid exploration of engineering options. A systematic understanding of the relationship between a 3D shape and the associated parameters for assembly requires the development of a general theory for the postbuckling process. In this paper, a double perturbation method is established for the postbuckling analyses of planar curved beams, of direct relevance to the assembly of ribbon-shaped 3D mesostructures. By introducing two perturbation parameters related to the initial configuration and the deformation, the highly nonlinear governing equations can be transformed into a series of solvable, linear equations that give analytic solutions to the displacements and curvatures during postbuckling. Systematic analyses of postbuckling in three representative ribbon shapes (sinusoidal, polynomial and arc configurations) illustrate the validity of theoretical method, through comparisons to the results of experiment and FEA. These results shed light on the relationship between the important deformation quantities (e.g., mode ratio and maximum strain) and the assembly parameters (e.g., initial configuration and the applied strain). This double perturbation method provides an attractive route to the inverse design of ribbon-shaped 3D geometries, as demonstrated in a class of helical mesostructures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-238
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • 3D assembly
  • Helical mesostructures
  • Perturbation method
  • Planar curved beams
  • Postbuckling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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