Materials Origami

New design principles for self-folding materials


From the ancient art of origami to modern meta-materials research, a central goal has been to develop the ability to convert a flat, stiff sheet into its final three-dimensional shape with just one single folding motion. Except for a few known cases, general design rules for the required patterns of creases have been elusive. 

Major progress towards this goal has now been achieved at the Chicago MRSEC by a team that included ArvindMurugan and TomWitten together with joint postdoc Matthew Pinson and Puerto Rican REU student Alexandra Carruthers Ferrero. The team uncovered new statistical results in origami, developed a novel classification of folding types, and identified pathways for achieving patterns whose energies are sufficiently low that they can be used to create self-folding structures.

This work opens up a wealth of new self-folding designs that are programmable


M. B. Pinson, M. Stern, A. C. Ferrero, T. A. Witten, E. Chen, and A. Murugan, Self-folding origami at any energy scaleNature Communications8, 15477 (2017). doi: 10.1038/ncomms15477