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James Weaver, Ph.D.

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2000

3-D Material Changes Shape As It Prepares For Next Task

Via Harvard | March 11, 2016

Imagine a house that could fit in a backpack or a wall that could become a window with the flick of a switch.

Harvard researchers have designed a new type of foldable material that is versatile, tunable, and self-actuated. It can change size, volume, and shape; it can fold flat to withstand the weight of an elephant without breaking, and pop right back up to prepare for the next task.

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. It is described in Nature Communications.

“We’ve designed a 3-D, thin-walled structure that can be used to make foldable and reprogrammable objects of arbitrary architecture, whose shape, volume, and stiffness can be dramatically altered and continuously tuned and controlled,” said Johannes T.B. Overvelde, a graduate student in Bertoldi’s lab and first author of the paper.

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