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HomePhysicsExplaining the Mechanics of a Chook’s Nest

Explaining the Mechanics of a Chook’s Nest

• Physics 15, 72

Experiments and simulations clarify the bizarre nature of the construction’s springiness.


Pure engineering. The chook’s nest achieves cohesion and adaptability by the interweaving of flexible rods in frictional contact.

A chook’s nest is a marvel of pure engineering: a disordered bundle of versatile rods woven into a fabric that’s light-weight and springy, but cohesive. A group of researchers has now used x-ray imaging and pc simulations to clarify how a nest-like meeting of brief rods acquires its uncommon response to mechanical stresses [1]. They discovered that the friction between strands and the distribution of the strands’ factors of contact play a vital position in figuring out a nest’s properties. A greater understanding of those components might assist efforts to make use of nest-like packings of rods in structure.

A chook’s-nest construction is a sort of granular materials, halfway between a random packing of compact grains, like rice, and a tangle of stiff fibers, like hair. Granular media created from very brief, rod-like particles have been studied beforehand, however much less consideration has been given to rods lengthy sufficient to flex and be interwoven, with length-to-width (facet) ratios of a number of tens [2, 3].

Beforehand, Mattia Gazzola of the College of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Hunter King of the College of Akron, Ohio, and their co-workers have examined the mechanical properties of random packings of brief bamboo rods poured right into a clear plastic cylinder and compressed utilizing a piston-like prime plate [4].

Urgent the nest. The researchers studied the mechanical habits of random packings of brief bamboo rods confined in a container as they have been squeezed by a piston (left). The group in contrast the experimental outcomes with pc simulations of the identical system (proper).Urgent the nest. The researchers studied the mechanical habits of random packings of brief bamboo rods confined in a container as they have been squeezed by a piston (left). The group in contrast the experimental outcomes with pc simulations of the s… Present extra

They discovered that this rod meeting springs again to kind of its authentic quantity when the strain of the plate is launched. Nevertheless it does so in a nonlinear method—the deformation (pressure) is just not merely proportional to the utilized stress. And there’s hysteresis—the stress-strain curve for compression doesn’t match the one throughout launch. The 2 curves begin and end on the identical locations however take completely different paths, making a loop. Such habits has additionally been seen for the compaction of low-aspect-ratio spheroidal particles [5].

The hysteresis loop implies that in compression, vitality is just not merely saved by elastic bending of the rods: some is misplaced as frictional warmth because the rods slide over each other, the quantity being proportional to the world enclosed by the loop. The researchers noticed the identical qualitative habits in pc simulations.

To higher perceive this habits, Gazzola and colleagues have now used computer-assisted x-ray tomography to create 3D maps of the factors of contact between the rods (that are 76 mm lengthy, with a facet ratio of 31). The group might observe how these contact maps modified throughout cycles of compacting and launch.

The information confirmed that because the compression will increase, the variety of contacts alongside every rod will increase. These contacts limit bending, so the rods develop into stiffer with elevated compression. This remark accounts for the nonlinearity of the stress-strain curves. The group additionally noticed the sliding and friction of contacts alongside the rods. There’s an asymmetry between the sliding throughout compression and that in launch due to the necessity to overcome static friction earlier than a contact can transfer: at any second, the contact level is trapped by friction away from its most steady state. This asymmetry explains the hysteresis loop.

Some architects are beginning to make use of geometrically entangled nest-like buildings [6], and King hopes that “providing an evidence for the origin of the only mechanical responses can be a primary step towards tunability of the stiffness, malleability, or toughness of such buildings.” He suspects that “there’s large potential for tuning mixture materials properties by various easy particulars of the weather.”

Seth Fraden, a soft-matter physicist at Brandeis College in Massachusetts, says that in chook’s nests “there are clearly essential engineering ideas at play, and it behooves us to know them.” The brand new work, he says, “is a vital first step” towards that aim. He praises the experiments and simulations, however he notes that actual nests aren’t confined by a container, so the direct relevance of those experiments to nature is unclear. Heinrich Jaeger of the College of Chicago, a specialist in granular media, agrees, including that the small dimension of the construction means the habits could have been strongly affected by interactions between the rods and the container partitions.

King agrees that the partitions have an impact, however the group is presently assessing how the construction’s properties change with dimension and hopes finally to extrapolate them to an “infinite nest,” one that’s free from boundary results. He provides that it stays to be seen what makes a construction like this self-supporting. Maybe it is dependent upon the main points of the packing process, he says: nest-building birds “are recognized to bend and tuck in sticks that poke out of the perimeters of a nest beneath building, [which] might conceivably give rise to a self-supporting construction.”

–Philip Ball

Philip Ball is a contract science author in London. His newest guide is The Trendy Myths (College of Chicago Press, 2021).


  1. Y. Bhosale et al., “Micromechanical origin of plasticity and hysteresis in nestlike packings,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 128, 198003 (2022).
  2. M. Trepanier and S. V. Franklin, “Column collapse of granular rods,” Phys. Rev. E 82, 011308 (2010).
  3. V. Yadav et al., “Impact of facet ratio on the event of order in vibrated granular rods,” Phys. Rev. E 88, 052203 (2013).
  4. N. Weiner et al., “Mechanics of randomly packed filaments—The “chook nest” as meta-material,” J. Appl. Phys. 127, 050902 (2020).
  5. P. Parafiniuk et al., “Impact of facet ratio on the mechanical habits of packings of spheroids,” Physica A 501, 1 (2018).
  6. Okay. Dierichs and A. Menges, “In the direction of an mixture structure: designed granular techniques as programmable matter in structure,” Granul. Matter 18, 25 (2016).

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