Role of flexibility in entanglement
Entanglement is essential to the function of many physical systems. Flexibility and length determine the extent to which the system can become entangled. Given a perfectly flexible unit-radius tube, several researchers have studied the minimum length needed to tie different types of knots. Can one obtain the same configurations with less flexible tubing? Does more flexibility always yield tighter knots? We demonstrate a phase change in flexibility beyond which more flexibility adds very little entanglement. This level of flexibility is surprisingly low and appears to have a global bound. Since tensile strength and flexibility act inversely, this level of flexibility provides the maximal tensile strength for materials that need to pack tightly. This is a basic design principle that should be observable in nature.
Physical Review E