Finite size effects in critical fiber networks†
Fibrous networks such as collagen are common in physiological systems. One important function of these networks is to provide mechanical stability for cells and tissues. At physiological levels of connectivity, such networks would be mechanically unstable with only central-force interactions. While networks can be stabilized by bending interactions, it has also been shown that they exhibit a critical transition from floppy to rigid as a function of applied strain. Beyond a certain strain threshold, it is predicted that underconstrained networks with only central-force interactions exhibit a discontinuity in the shear modulus. We study the finite-size scaling behavior of this transition and identify both the mechanical discontinuity and critical exponents in the thermodynamic limit. We find both non-mean-field behavior and evidence for a hyperscaling relation for the critical exponents, for which the network stiffness is analogous to the heat capacity for thermal phase transitions. Further evidence for this is also found in the self-averaging properties of fiber networks.