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Phyllotaxis: a non‐conventional crystalline solution to packing efficiency in situations with radial symmetry

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Phyllotaxis, the search for the most homogeneous and dense organizations of small discs inside a large circular domain, was first developed to analyse arrangements of leaves or florets in plants. It has since become an object of study not only in botany, but also in mathematics, computer simulations and physics. Although the mathematical solution is now well known, an algorithm setting out the centres of the small discs on a Fermat spiral, the very nature of this organization and its properties of symmetry remain to be examined. The purpose of this paper is to describe a phyllotactic organization of points through its Voronoi cells and Delaunay triangulation and to refer to the concept of defects developed in condensed matter physics. The topological constraint of circular symmetry introduces an original inflation–deflation symmetry taking the place of the translational and rotational symmetries of classical crystallography.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2012


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