The Mechanics of Multitubes

27 November 2012
Stephen O'Keeffe

Multi-layered cylinders, or 'multitubes', are ubiquitous throughout the biological world, from microscopic axons to plant stems. Whilst these structures share an underlying common geometry, each one fulfils a different key role in its relevant environment. For example plant stems provide a transport network for nutrients within the organism, whilst the tongue of a chameleon is used for prey capture. This talk will be concerned with the mechanical stability of multitubes. How do the material properties, applied tractions and geometry of elastic rods and tubes influence their critical buckling pressure and mode of buckling? We will discuss the phenomenon of differential growth, an important factor in the mechanical behaviour of such systems and introduce a mathematical framework, which can be used to model differential growth in soft tissues and predict the onset of buckling. We will also present a small number of applications for this research.

  • Junior Applied Mathematics Seminar