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Phys Rev Lett. 2007 Apr 13;98(15):156103. Epub 2007 Apr 13.

Capillary origami: spontaneous wrapping of a droplet with an elastic sheet.

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Physique et Mécanique des Milieux Hétérogènes, ESPCI, Paris 6, Paris 7, UMR CNRS 7636, 75231 Paris cedex 5, France.


The interaction between elasticity and capillarity is used to produce three-dimensional structures through the wrapping of a liquid droplet by a planar sheet. The final encapsulated 3D shape is controlled by tailoring the initial geometry of the flat membrane. Balancing interfacial energy with elastic bending energy provides a critical length scale below which encapsulation cannot occur, which is verified experimentally. This length is found to depend on the thickness as h3/2, a scaling favorable to miniaturization which suggests a new way of mass production of 3D micro- or nanoscale objects.

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