London, May 13 (ANI): Pyramids are the best shape for packing candies, according to a new American research.
Graduate student Alexander Jaoshvili of New York University and his colleagues filled and shook containers of tetrahedral game dice.
The tetrahedra were packed tightly to occupy 76 percent of their containers, they found. In comparison, randomly packed spheres fill up to 64 percent of space, while squashed spheres, or ellipsoids, can fill as much as 74 percent.
The research can help develop stronger materials - MRI studies by the team demonstrate that a tetrahedral die can be locked into place by its immediate neighbours alone, making it harder to nudge out of place.
Jumbled collections of spheres, by contrast, are less rigid because any sphere can be moved by objects as far away as six diameters.
The finding can aid the development of nearly unbreakable plates.
"If, for instance, you wanted to make a very dense, rigid, hard ceramic, you would probably be better off making the powder from tetrahedra," New Scientist quoted Jaoshvili's adviser, Paul Chaikin, as saying.
According to Salvatore Torquato of Princeton University, tetrahedra may be able to pack together randomly even more efficiently.
In a recent simulation, Torquato and student Yang Jiao found a way to pack tetrahedra that took up more than 82 percent of space.
But this configuration may be more ordered than the one in Jaoshvili's study.
The question is important as it's still not known what kind of packing - random or ordered - is most efficient for tetrahedra.
Ordered, crystalline arrangements of tetrahedra can fill more than 85 percent of available space, recent simulations have found, but randomly assembled objects might be able to pack more tightly.
"Nobody knows whether the densest packing is ordered or random," Chaikin said.
Torquato said: "People tend to think that the densest packings are always ordered, but there's no fundamental reason why that has to be true.
"We can't rule out the possibility that the densest packings of tetrahedra will be disordered."
Jaoshvili's study has appeared in the journal Physical Review Letters. (ANI)