Reversible shape morphing of metamaterials
A reversible method of fabricating synthetic materials with applications in self-configuring medical devices and autonomous soft robotics.
In synthetic materials, the ability to shape morph in response to physical instead of chemical cues allows the product to pack, unpack or change volume drastically depending on the situation presented. There are two current fabrication techniques, each with their own limitations. Active materials, such as hydrogels, can be shaped with chemical recipes, but the process is non-reversible. Passive solids use the concept of origami to create 3D objects by embedding geometric patterns into the molding structure, but all current methods require a mechanical stimulus.
The goals of shape morphing include reconfiguration after fabrication, functionalization, and time-dependent control. With this technology a pair of passive solids are able to shape morph into a variety of single piece meta-ensembles without mechanical stimulus. By encoding modes of deformation into the geometry of each temperature-responsive metaunit, a distinct number of shape targets can be generated. This coherent framework allows the user to pre-program their target shape based on the geometric patterns embedded into the passive material. The process can also be transferred to existing technologies, such as 3D printing, because the fabrication method merely involves cuts on a single piece of passive material like rubber or wood.
- Reversibility of the process allows this technology to be easily transported and reused
- Temperature dependent stimulus instead of mechanical force
- Predefined metamaterial architecture morphs into a target state