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Nature. 2017 Jan 18;541(7637):347-352. doi: 10.1038/nature20824.

Rational design of reconfigurable prismatic architected materials.

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School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
AMOLF, Science Park 104, 1098XG Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
Hoberman Associates, New York, New York 10001, USA.
Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
Kavli Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


Advances in fabrication technologies are enabling the production of architected materials with unprecedented properties. Most such materials are characterized by a fixed geometry, but in the design of some materials it is possible to incorporate internal mechanisms capable of reconfiguring their spatial architecture, and in this way to enable tunable functionality. Inspired by the structural diversity and foldability of the prismatic geometries that can be constructed using the snapology origami technique, here we introduce a robust design strategy based on space-filling tessellations of polyhedra to create three-dimensional reconfigurable materials comprising a periodic assembly of rigid plates and elastic hinges. Guided by numerical analysis and physical prototypes, we systematically explore the mobility of the designed structures and identify a wide range of qualitatively different deformations and internal rearrangements. Given that the underlying principles are scale-independent, our strategy can be applied to the design of the next generation of reconfigurable structures and materials, ranging from metre-scale transformable architectures to nanometre-scale tunable photonic systems.


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