The workshop “Modern perspectives on thin sheets: geometry, elasticity, and statistical physics” took place 3-7 Sept. 2012 in the Lorentz center. The workshop included 46 participants from various countries including USA, France, Israel, Chile, UK and the Netherlands.

The aim of the workshop was to stimulate interaction between various disciplines by bringing together scientists from different but related fields. The main groups that participated were of physicists that study constrained and frustrated thin elastic sheets, biological sheets (essentially from plants), frustrated 2 and 3 dimensional liquid crystal systems, and thermally fluctuating membranes.


The workshop was a success. The talks focused on the most recent research in these domains and were of the highest level. These talks were the starting point of several outstanding formal discussions. We also emphasize the numerous informal discussions in groups or pairs that are the essence of a workshop at the Lorentz center. The merger of the different disciplines succeeded beyond expectations and new insights were generated due to the interactions between the different groups. In the conclusive discussion of the workshop, participants pointed to the following central and new topics of interest that emerged during the workshop:


             The analogy and relation between folding and “scars” patterns that appear on constrained elastic sheets and self-organized sheets made of weakly connected particles.

             The transition from wrinkling to folding or crumpling in elastic sheets. How to distinguish folding and crumpling? Is there a universal scenario for such transitions?

             What is the origin of the anomalous behavior with thickness, observed in unconstrained non-Euclidean hyperbolic sheets?

             What are the characteristics of growth regulation in leaves? Such thin objects grow via expansion of individual cells without buckling (i.e., stress does not accumulate in the leaf). This implies a regulation mechanisms where local stresses could affect the cell growth.

             How are the different morphologies observed for confined thin sheet – wrinkling, folding, buckling, scars – affected by thermal fluctuations?


All these topics are interdisciplinary by essence, a clear indicator of a good synergy between the different disciplines participating in the workshop. These questions mark some of the future research directions in this evolving subfield of soft matter physics. The participants agreed that it would be very useful to further strengthen the community created at this workshop by starting a periodic Gordon Research Conference on this topic.


Last but not least, the management and administrative aspects of the workshop were excellent. The Lorentz center team created a pleasant atmosphere with excellent conditions for scientific interaction. 


P. Damman (Mons, Belgium)
B. Davidovitch (Amherst, United States) 
E. Sharon (Jerusalem, Israel)
V. Vitelli (Leiden, Netherlands)