Sequential self-folding of polymer sheets

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Science Advances  03 Mar 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 3, e1602417
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602417

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Shape plays an important role in defining the function of materials, particularly those found in nature. Several strategies exist to program materials to change from one shape to another; however, few can temporally and spatially control the shape. Programming the sequence of shape transformation with temporal control has been driven by the desire to generate complex shapes with high yield and to create multiple shapes from the same starting material. This paper demonstrates a markedly simple strategy for programmed self-folding of two-dimensional (2D) polymer sheets into 3D objects in a sequential manner using external light. Printed ink on the surface of the polymer sheets discriminately absorbs light on the basis of the wavelength of the light and the color of the ink that defines the hinge about which the sheet folds. The absorbed light gradually heats the underlying polymer across the thickness of the sheet, which causes relief of strain to induce folding. These color patterns can be designed to absorb only specific wavelengths of light (or to absorb differently at the same wavelength using color hues), thereby providing control of sheet folding with respect to time and space. This type of shape programming may have numerous applications, including reconfigurable electronics, actuators, sensors, implantable devices, smart packaging, and deployable structures.

  • shape memory origami polymer self-folding

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