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Using continuum elasticity theory, we describe the elastic behavior of helical coils with an asymmetric double-helix structure and identify conditions, under which they become very rigid. Theoretical insight gained for macro-structures including a stretched telephone cord and an unsupported helical staircase is universal and of interest for the elastic behavior of helical structures on the microand nanometer scale. PACS numbers: 62.20.de, 62.25.Jkdoi:10.1103/physrevapplied.8.014002 fatcat:2hecjzaupfgppifbepyslmox5i