Harvard Researchers Design A Foldable, Self Actuated 3-D Material

Posted: Mar 11 2016, 12:06pm CST | by , Updated: Mar 11 2016, 12:08pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

Harvard Researchers Design A Foldable, Self Actuated 3-D Material
Harvard researchers have designed a new type of foldable material that is versatile, tunable and self actuated. Here a single cell is folds according to its actuation. Credit: Johannes Overvelde/SEAS
  • Harvard Researchers Design A 3-D Material That Folds, Bends and Shrinks on its Own!

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Harvard discovers 3D material which can change size, volume and shape. Researchers have designed the foldable material using an origami technique called Snapology.

A team of Harvard researchers have designed a new type of foldable material. The material is versatile, tune-able and self-activated. The 3D material is capable of changing its size, volume and shape.

The material can allegedly fold flat to withstand the weight of an elephant without breaking. The material can then pop right back up.

The team which founded the material was led by Katia Bertoldi. Bertoldi is from the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences. The findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications.

Johannes T. B. Overvelde is a graduate student in Bertoldi's lab and first author of the paper. According to Overvelde, they have designed a three-dimensional, thin-walled structure.

The structure can be used to make foldable and re-programmable objects of arbitrary architecture. The shape, volume and stiffness of the structures can be dramatically altered. The objects can also be continuously tuned and controlled.

"We've designed a three-dimensional, thin-walled structure that can be used to make foldable and reprogrammable objects of arbitrary architecture, whose shape, volume and stiffness can be dramatically altered and continuously tuned and controlled," said Johannes.

The material was developed using an origami technique called snapology. The material is made from extruded cubes with 24 faces and 36 edges. The cube can be folded along its edges to change their shapes.

The edges act like hinges and were used to deform the cubes into many different shapes. 64 individual cells were connected to create a 4x4x4 cube. The cube can grow, and shrink, change its shape globally.

The research demonstrates a new class of foldable and scalable materials. The material works from the nanoscale to the meter-scale. Anything from surgical stents to portable pop-up domes can be made using the 3D material.

"The opportunities to move all of the control systems onboard combined with new actuation systems already being developed for similar origami-like structures really opens up the design space for these easily deployable transformable structures", said Weaver.

"This structural system has fascinating implications for dynamic architecture including portable shelters, adaptive building facades and retractable roofs," said Hoberman.

"Whereas current approaches to these applications rely on standard mechanics, this technology offers unique advantages such as how it integrates surface and structure, its inherent simplicity of manufacture, and its ability to fold flat."

"This research demonstrates a new class of foldable materials that is also completely scalable," Overvelde said, " It works from the nanoscale to the meter-scale and could be used to make anything from surgical stents to portable pop-up domes for disaster relief."

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