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ENG/EFRI FY 2012 Awards Announcement

Origami Design for Integration of Self-assembling Systems for Engineering Innovation (ODISSEI) Awards

The Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) office awarded 15 grants in FY 2012, including the following 8 on the topic of Origami Design for Integration of Self-assembling Systems for Engineering Innovation (ODISSEI):

Responsive structures
The project “Multi-field Responsive Origami Structures -- Advancing the Emerging Frontier of Active Compliant Mechanisms” (1240459) will be led by Mary Frecker of Pennsylvania State University, in collaboration with Penn State colleagues Zoubeida Ounaies, Timothy Simpson, and Rebecca Strzelec, and with Paris von Lockette of Rowan University.

The goal of this project is to develop methods to design origami structures that actively fold from a flat sheet to complex three-dimensional shapes in response to multiple fields, such as electric, thermal, and magnetic fields. In developing these field-responsive origami shapes, the team will draw on visual art, geometric modeling, and origami mathematics. The shapes will provide targets for designing novel active, compliant mechanisms that, along with predictive modeling and simulations, will guide the development of new active materials. This new class of materials includes micro- and nano-enabled hybrids capable of selective folding and unfolding along creases. With a rigorous design optimization framework, this project will foster novel concepts and design innovation in many areas, ranging from surgical instruments to adaptive aircraft structures and reconfigurable robots.

Printing hinges onto polymers
The project “Externally-triggered Origami of Responsive Polymer Sheets” (1240438) will be led by Jan Genzer in collaboration with Susan Brandeis and Yong Zhu, all of North Carolina State University.

This project will explore origami with polymer sheets that fold in response to light, creating new multi-functional 3D structures that form rapidly into precisely controlled shapes. The polymer sheets will fold at hinges defined by inkjet printing -- an approach that can be broadened to a range of 2D patterning techniques, including screen-printing and lithography.  The researchers will study and model the scaling laws of folding, the rate of folding, and the mechanics of folding to develop compliant folding mechanisms. With new understanding of materials and the use of external stimuli, the team will enhance control of folding to increase the functionality of the 3D structure. This simple, versatile approach aims to lead to a novel paradigm for developing materials with unprecedented functions and properties.

Shaping engineered systems
The project “Uniting Principles of Folding and Compliant Mechanisms to Create Engineering Systems with Unprecedented Performance” (1240417) will be led by Larry Howell in collaboration with Lisa Barrager, Denise Halverson, Spencer Magleby, and David Morgan, all of Brigham Young University.

Compliant mechanisms are able to move through the deflection of flexible components, much like origami structures move while being folded. This project aims to unite compliant mechanisms and origami principles to enable the creation of engineered systems with unprecedented characteristics and capabilities. The researchers will investigate how to apply origami principles to a variety of non-paper materials, create unifying design methods based on mathematical models, and demonstrate the use of unified principles in engineered systems with extraordinary performance. The investigation promises a library of surrogate folds that mimic origami creases, design methods and mathematical modeling approaches for creating origami-based compliant mechanisms, and engineered systems that further national goals.

Synthesizing complex structures
The project “Synthesizing Complex Structures from Programmable Self-folding Active Materials” (1240483) will be led by Richard Malak in collaboration with Ergun Akleman, Nancy Amato, Dimitris Lagoudas, and Daniel McAdams, all of Texas A&M University.

This research seeks to discover new techniques for synthesizing complex 3D structures from programmable, self-folding 2D elements. Elements will be massively foldable, meaning fold characteristics and locations will be of near-infinite variety and not limited to pre-engineered folds or joints. The elements’ capability for motion will be provided by active shape memory layers. Connecting elements, programmed with a sequence of movements, will enable larger and more complex 3D structures. The team will create simulation models of the self-folding elements, conduct experiments to validate the models, and demonstrate the overall synthesis framework. The team anticipates that new theories and methods from this investigation could enable the design of complex systems in fundamentally new ways.

Photo-origami
The project “Photo-Origami” (1240374) will be led by Hang (Jerry) Qi, of the University of Colorado Boulder, in collaboration with CU-Boulder colleagues Kurt Maute, Robert McLeod, and Elisabeth Stade, and with Patrick Mather of Syracuse University.

This project aims to create a holistic approach, named photo-origami, to transform a flat polymer sheet into a mechanically robust 3D structure via a sequence of light-activated folding and deformation steps. This new manufacturing approach will be achieved by integrating shape memory polymers, light-responsive compliant materials, and optical waveguides into a smart canvas to enable sequential folding. Beginning with the creation of basic components and the corresponding mechanistic understanding, the research will develop design theory involving multiple simultaneous physical phenomena. The researchers ultimately seek to enable fundamentally new, photo-origami approaches to manufacturing materials and devices -- particularly for electronic and information technologies -- with extraordinary functionalities.

Multi-functional origami systems
The project “Programmable Origami for Integration of Self-assembling Systems in Engineered Structures” (1240383) will be led by Daniela Rus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in collaboration with Erik Demaine of MIT, Sang bae Kim of MIT, and Robert Wood of Harvard University.

The objective of this project is to create computational materials whose properties can be programmed to achieve specific shapes and/or mechanical properties, such as stiffness, upon command. The new computational materials will integrate sensing, actuation, computation, and communication. Beginning as flat structures with built-in, universal crease patterns, the materials will be capable of autonomously changing their geometric and mechanical configuration following new folding plans and control algorithms. The team will combine the materials and algorithms in a programmable, intelligent origami system capable of producing a range of different origami shapes to meet the design and engineering goals for the structure. By enabling the rapid design and fabrication of multi-functional engineered systems, the results of this research could transform the way we build machines.

Tunable mechanics for self-folding
The project “Mechanical Meta-materials from Self-folding Polymer Sheets” (1240441) will be led by Christian Santangelo of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in collaboration with Itai Cohen of Cornell University, Ryan Hayward of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Thomas Hull of Western New England College.

This project seeks to develop self-folding polymer sheets as a platform for new materials that take advantage of origami principles to provide highly tunable mechanical responses. The researchers will create new polymer materials, a form of metamaterials, whose mechanical properties can be adjusted over a wide range of behaviors, and which can buckle and fold dynamically based on lithography patterns on the polymer sheet. The team will engineer and characterize modular origami components, such as folds and vertices, and then assemble them into more complex structures. New theoretical tools will predict the mechanical properties of different fold patterns, and these will be validated by comparison to measurements on micro-fabricated structures. This research also will explore the use of curvature to control shape and mechanics, as well as to inspire new artistic achievements.

How size shapes folding
The project “Multi-scale Origami for Novel Photonics, Energy Conversion” (1240264) will be led by Max Shtein in collaboration with Sharon Glotzer, John Hart, Nicholas Kotov, and Pei-Cheng Ku, all of the University of Michigan.
This project will investigate how the folding of planar materials can produce novel functional structures ranging from millimeter- to nanometer-scale, where many materials behave differently. The researchers will create thin films and membranes that are etched and perforated to enable folding into complex shapes, and that can be programmed to respond to temperature, humidity, light, or other conditions. Using experiments and modeling, the fundamental principles governing the transformation of sheets into 3D structures will be studied, with a focus on how size influences folding dynamics. This knowledge should help resolve significant challenges of materials integration into complex and robust 3D structures, such as the control of light propagation in energy conversion devices, scalable fabrication of optical and electromagnetic metamaterials, and engineering of reconfigurable "smart" surfaces powered by changes in ambient conditions.

Summaries of the EFRI projects on Flexible Bioelectronics Systems (BioFlex)

Summaries of the EFRI projects on Photosynthetic Biorefineries (PSBR)

- Cecile J. Gonzalez, NSF, cjgonzal@nsf.gov -


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