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New pop-up strategy inspiring a new class of materials

27 February 2017

Researchers are drawing material inspiration from an ancient Japanese paper craft – kirigami – that relies on cuts rather than folds, unlike origami.

The buckling-induced Miura kirigami sheet can be folded flat (Image courtesy of Ahmad Rafsanjani/Harvard SEAS)

In a new paper published in Physical Review Letters, SEAS researchers demonstrate how a thin, perforated sheet can be transformed into a foldable 3D structure by simply stretching the cut material.

"We find that applying sufficiently large amounts of stretching, buckling is triggered and results in the formation of a 3D structure comprising a well-organised pattern of mountains and valleys, very similar to popular origami folds such as the Miura-ori," said Ahmad Rafsanjani, a postdoctoral fellow at SEAS and first author of the paper.

The team found that if the material is stretched more, the temporary deformations become permanent folds. The team also found that the pop-up pattern and resulting mechanical properties of the material can be controlled by varying the orientation of the cuts.

"This study shows a robust pop-up strategy to manufacture complex morphable structures out of completely flat perforated sheets," said Katia Bertoldi, the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences at SEAS and senior author of the paper.

Video courtesy of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).


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