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Friday, April 13, 2012

Origami with molecules?

By Udit Chaudhuri

Photograph courtesy:  Jongmin Shim, Katia Bertoldi and Pedro Reis

A building with collapsible walls and roofs, an arm with smooth, seamless joints like a green branch instead of mechanical pairs, a micro-sized drug delivery system digging into a specific gland or a ‘paste’ that forms into a defined shape may well become a reality quite soon!

Progress in the materials sciences sees attempts to ‘design’ molecular patterns and thus micro-sized forms. However, there are limitations that hold up scaling this up to visible objects of our daily use. I am referring to the Buckliball-inspired experiment at Harvard and MIT.


Katia Bertoldi, Assistant Professor of Applied Mechanics at the Harvard School of Engineering & Applied Sciences (SEAS), 
with Postdoctoral Fellow Jongmin Shim. Photograph by Eliza Grinnell, Harvard SEAS.

A team of scientists at MIT and Harvard led by Katia Bertoldi, Assistant Professor in Applied Mechanics at Harvard; and Pedro Reis, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton, Assistant Professors of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at MIT wrote about this work now published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Inspired by the Buckliball, a toy ball made of complex hinged joints that folded this ball into becoming a smaller one, the team ‘constructed’ a soft rubber ball. Inter-molecular air sucked out of it, saw the ball form dimples and churn itself akin to the Buckliball into a smaller shrivelled ball, in an orderly way.  

Playing with an expanding and collapsing toy (top row), researchers at Harvard and MIT were inspired
 to design a new type of folding structure. The result is a one-piece silicone sphere, dubbed a "buckliball" for its
pressure-induced buckling behavior (bottom row). Photograph courtesy: Katia Bertoldi.


In origami, it has been possible to turn and collapse cubes and polygonal prisms by valley-folding their faces diagonally and twisting them into becoming compact paper springs. This experiment now makes for such “Buckligami” behaviour. It will be possible to build structures of molecules or compounds, albeit presently in soft materials, that will collapse in an orderly way under pressure and then build back to their original form when such pressure reverses. Practical applications could extend to include robotic skins and fibres, collapsible roofs and walls, controlled bending of beams or paste morphing back to an original shape on being released from a vacuumed dispenser as well as specialised drug delivery systems.

The Buckliball
Video: Lucy Lindsey/Melanie Gonick; footage courtesy of Jongmin Shim, Katia Bertoldi and Pedro Reis


Information Courtesy:
1.        Denise Brehm, Civil and Environmental Engineering Dept, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.
2.       Caroline Perry, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science, Harvard University, USA.

6 comments :

  1. Great post, you have pointed out some superb details, I will tell my friends that this is a very informative blog thanks.
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    ReplyDelete
  2. I think there are designs for modern space satellites that are based on the principles of origami which allows them to collapse for transport in to space.

    The potential for applications in buildings is something I would like to hear more about...

    Posted by Adam Mottershead on Linkedin Group: London Architecture Network in response to IAnD's discussion thread:How far can design explore the practical applications of origami? Can you think of some inspired applications or would you have any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
  3. It is possible. I think the opportunities in building construction will be more towards the internal fixtures and fittings (eg. foldaway beds, tables etc.) rather then the entire structure. It might be solution in small modular housing, especially in high risk natural disaster areas, where a foldaway sytem will be ideal in minimising infrastructure damage.
    Posted by Anup Magan on Linkedin Group: London Architecture Network in response to IAnD's discussion thread:How far can design explore the practical applications of origami? Can you think of some inspired applications or would you have any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Perhaps the various applications of textiles could achieve foldable and moveable results. One could not only look at origami but at sails and sailing boats where big sails are constantly reeved, folded, unfolded and oriented towards the wind. The beauty is that they combine very old knowledge with the newest materials.
    Posted by Catja de Haas on Linkedin Group: London Architecture Network in response to IAnD's discussion thread:How far can design explore the practical applications of origami? Can you think of some inspired applications or would you have any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
  5. There are several examples of practical applications of origami, from full buildings to lamps.
    I have been trying to figure out how to combine origami and concrete into wall covering....Origami-Crete! What do you think of my experiment so far?.... http://newboldstone.com/Blog/
    Posted by John Newbold on Linkedin Group: Design & Architecture in response to IAnD's discussion thread:How far can design explore the practical applications of origami? Can you think of some inspired applications or would you have any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Moroso Italian furniture company has experimented with origami flower forms in a series called Antibodi.Great materials and well exetuted designs as always.
    Posted by Afroditi Tsoukala on Linkedin Group: Design & Architecture in response to IAnD's discussion thread:How far can design explore the practical applications of origami? Can you think of some inspired applications or would you have any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete

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