How Wrinkles Form

by Peter Gwynne, Inside Science

From raisins to fingerprints, and from tree bark to the surface of the brain, wrinkles appear throughout nature. But scientists have struggled to explain how wrinkles form.

Now two independent research teams at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge have developed key insights into the process.

One group has developed a mathematical theory, confirmed experimentally, that predicts how wrinkles take shape on curved surfaces. The other explains in more general terms how layered materials form different types of wrinkly patterns.

Taken together, the new insights promise to improve understanding of biological organisms and to lead to the creation of objects with complex shapes in industries such as electronics.

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