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Learning from origami to design new materials
Date:8/7/2014

AMHERST, Mass. -- A challenge increasingly important to physicists and materials scientists in recent years has been how to design controllable new materials that exhibit desired physical properties rather than relying on those properties to emerge naturally, says University of Massachusetts Amherst physicist Christian Santangelo.

Now he and physicist Arthur Evans and polymer scientist Ryan Hayward at UMass Amherst, with others at Cornell and Western New England University, are using origami-based folding methods for "tuning" the fundamental physical properties of any type of thin sheet, which may eventually lead to development of molecular-scale machines that could snap into place and perform mechanical tasks. Results are reported today in an early online edition of Science.

At a physics meeting a couple of years ago, Santangelo mentioned the unusual properties of a special type of origami fold called Miura-ori to fellow physicist Jesse Silverberg of Cornell, a long-time origami enthusiast. Miura-ori, named after the astrophysicist who invented the technique, is a series folded parallelograms that change the stiffness of a sheet of paper based only on the crease pattern.

Also known as tessellation, this special folding, which occurs naturally in some leaves and tissues, arranges a flat surface using a repeated pattern of alternating mountain-and-valley zigzag folds. Objects folded this way contract when squeezed, a bit like an accordion, so they can be packed into a very small shape but unfolded with little effort from the corners. This technique has been used in space to launch satellites with solar arrays that can be unfolded using only a few small motors at the edges.

Santangelo explains, "As you compress most materials along one axis, they expand in other directions. In other words, squeezing a hunk of material causes it to leak out the sides. A rare class of materials, however, does the opposite. If you compr
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Contact: Janet Lathrop
jlathrop@admin.umass.edu
413-545-0444
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3

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