Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Christian Santangelo


asymptotics;bound states;free energy;geometry;soft-matter physics;wkb/semiclassical method

Subject Categories

Condensed Matter Physics | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Physics


This dissertation is concerned with two problems that lie at the interface of soft-matter physics, geometry, and asymptotic analysis, but otherwise have no bearing on one another. In the first problem, I consider the equilibrium thermal fluctuations of deformable mechanical frameworks. These frameworks have served as highly idealized representations of mechanical structures that underlie a plethora of soft, few-body systems at the submicron scale such as colloidal clusters and DNA origami. When the holonomic constraints in a framework cease to be linearly independent, singularities can appear in its configuration space, where it becomes energetically softer. Consequently, the framework's free-energy landscape becomes dominated by the neighborhoods of points corresponding to these singularities. In the second problem, I study the localization of elastic waves in thin elastic structures with spatially varying curvature profiles, using a curved rod and a uniaxially-curved shell as concrete examples. Waves propagating on such structures have multiple components owing to the curvature-mediated coupling of the tangential and normal components of the displacement field. Here, using the semiclassical approximation, I show that these waves form localized, bound states around points where the absolute curvature of the structure has a minimum. Both these problems exemplify the subtle interplay between the mechanical properties of soft materials and their geometry, which further sets the stage for many interesting consequences.


Open Access