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Langmuir. 2007 Aug 14;23(17):8747-51. Epub 2007 Jul 4.

Surface tension-driven self-folding polyhedra.

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Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Department of Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA.

Erratum in

  • Langmuir. 2009 Feb 17;25(4):2550.


We discuss finite element simulations and experiments involving the surface tension-driven self-folding of patterned polyhedra. Two-dimensional (2D) photolithographically patterned templates folded spontaneously when solder hinges between adjacent faces were liquefied. Minimization of interfacial free energy of the molten solder with the surrounding fluidic medium caused the solder to ball up, resulting in a torque that rotated adjacent faces and drove folding. The simulations indicate that the folding process can be precisely controlled, has fault tolerance, and can be used to fold polyhedra composed of a variety of materials, ranging in size from the millimeter scale down to the nanometer scale. Experimentally, we have folded metallic, arbitrarily patterned polyhedra ranging in size from 2 mm to 15 microm.


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