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Origami could lead to exotic materials, tiny transformers
Date:8/7/2014

ra-ori itself can be considered a mechanical metamaterial because its stiffness can be controlled by the specific fold angles of the parallelograms, Silverberg said.

But unlike other metamaterials with fixed properties, "pop-through defects," which are made by changing crease directions, can be introduced at arbitrary locations within the sheet to change its stiffness.

Using numerical simulations, Evans and Santangelo calculated the effect that such a pop-through defect has on the Miura-ori. They showed that it instantly makes the entire sheet stiffer, and that their effect is additive. A pattern of pop-through defects behaves like a computer program: While a string of 0's and 1's tells a computer what to do, a configuration of pop-through defects controls the "hardware" and tells the Miura-ori how to respond to external forces. They also found that a neighboring pop-through defect with opposite orientation can cancel out the first defect. This effect is similar to what in atomic systems would be called a "vacancy" where an atom is removed from a crystal lattice.

"We're looking at an origami structure and using a language developed for understanding the mechanical properties of atomic crystals to talk about what we see here," Silverberg said. "Our work brings together origami, metamaterials, programmable matter, crystallography and more. It's totally bizarre and unique to have so many of these ideas intersecting at the same time."

The dream? Atomic-scale machines programmed based on folding patterns that could snap into place and perform mechanical functions.

"You can imagine a folded sheet of some material and popping in defects to make a stiff shield, or somehow deploying an object and giving it a rigid backbone," Cohen said. "You can think of it as appendages that can be locked in place or a useful tool whose properties can be set once it has been deployed. In that way, it's kind of like the transformers, where robots
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Contact: Syl Kacapyr
vpk6@cornell.edu
607-255-7701
Cornell University
Source:Eurekalert

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