Kathleen A. Hoffman

A Variational Rod Model with a Singular Nonlocal Potential

K.A. Hoffman and T.I. Seidman


The classical theory of elastic rods does not account for the possibility that large deformations may involve distinct points along the rod occupying the same physical space. We develop an elastic rod model with a pairwise repulsive potential such that, if two non-adjacent points along the rod are close in physical space, there is an energy barrier which prevents contact while for points nearby along the rod the potential is describable classically. This framework is developed to prove the existence of minimizers within each homotopy class, where the idea of topological homotopy of a curve is generalized to elastic rods as framed curves. Finally, the relevant first-order optimality conditions are derived and used to investigate the regularity of minimizers.