Shape Shifting Matter No Longer Just A Beautiful Dream

Posted by on June 28th, 2010


Sick of using all sorts of different shapes of things only for the purpose they were initially designed for? Step right up to the bold new future named programmable matter!

To make them self-folding, computer scientist Daniela Rus at MIT and her colleagues embedded strips just 100 microns thick – as wide as a human hair – made of a “shape-memory” nickel-titanium alloy that changes shape when heated or cooled. They also included flexible, stretchable copper-laminated plastic mesh ribbons on the sheets that served as wires.

When electricity running through the coppery ribbons was applied to heat the shape memory alloy strips to 70 degrees C (158 degrees F) or more, they went from flat to bent, causing the entire sheet to fold with them. In the end, the 32-tile sheets the researchers devised could fold into origami boats and airplanes.

This means a whole toolbox could be replaced by one single anamorphic shape shifting tool. Like Mystique, but with a phillips AND flat heads.


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