Packing of stiff rods on ellipsoids: Geometry

Doron Grossman, Eytan Katzav, Eran Sharon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We suggest a geometrical mechanism for the ordering of slender filaments inside nonisotropic containers, using cortical microtubules in plant cells and the packing of viral genetic material inside capsids as concrete examples. We show analytically how the shape of the cell affects the ordering of phantom elastic rods that are not self-avoiding (i.e., self-crossing is allowed). We find that for oblate cells, the preferred orientation is along the equator, while for prolate spheroids with an aspect ratio close to 1, the orientation is along the principal (long axis). Surprisingly, at a high enough aspect ratio, a configurational phase transition occurs and the rods no longer point along the principal axis, but at an angle to it, due to high curvature at the poles. We discuss some of the possible effects of self-avoidance using energy considerations. These results are relevant to other packing problems as well, such as the spooling of filament in the industry or spider silk inside water droplets.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number013001
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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