Knowing When to Fold - Engineers Use 'Nano-Origami' to Build Tiny Electronic Devices

Folding paper into shapes such as a crane or a butterfly is challenging enough for most people. Now imagine trying to fold something that's about a hundred times thinner than a human hair and then putting it to use as an electronic device.

A team of researchers led by George Barbastathis, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is developing the basic principles of "nano-origami," a new technique that allows engineers to fold nanoscale materials into simple 3-D structures. The tiny folded materials could be used as motors and capacitors, potentially leading to better computer memory storage, faster microprocessors and new nanophotonic devices.

In this video, flaps of a polymer sheet are folded into a corner of a cube. An external magnetic field interacts with a current flowing through wires embedded in the sheet, causing the sheets to fold up. Video / Nader Shaar.

Nano origami

Run time: 0.54 mins

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