A material produced by Harvard researchers changes size, volume and shape all by itself, reports The Harvard Gazette. The new material, inspired by the “snapology” technique from origami is composed of extruded cubes that have 24 faces and 36 edges.
The cube folds along its edges to produce different shapes, and during tests the use of various pneumatic actuators allowed the material to be programmed to transform without external input. Yet actuators could be of any type, including thermal, dielectric or water. During the tests, 64 individual cells of the new material were connected to form a 4x4x4 cube that could change size, shape, and orientation – in turn controlling the material’s stiffness.
The research was led by Katia Bertoldi, the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS); James Weaver, senior research scientist at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University; and Chuck Hoberman of the Graduate School of Design.
“This structural system has fascinating implications for dynamic architecture, including portable shelters, adaptive building facades, and retractable roofs,” said Hoberman. “…this technology offers unique advantages such as how it integrates surface and structure, its inherent simplicity of manufacture, and its ability to fold flat.”
Learn more about the new material in the Harvard Gazette.
News via Harvard