[Image Source: University of Bristol]
A new metamaterial has been created by engineers from the University of Bristol using an ancient Japanese technique known as Kirigami.
Kirigami, in which the cellular metamaterials were based upon, is a Japanese art form that involves cutting and folding paper to obtain a 3D shape. The new technique enables cellular structures to be engineered with precise cuts that create large shape and volume alterations resulting in a lightweight, strong material. The shapes can be created with moveable parts that result in extremely tunable mechanical properties, making it more dexterous than origami.
The research conducted examining the viability of Kiragami structures was concluded in a PhD program run by the University's EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Composites for Innovation and Science (ACCIS CDT), and was recently published in Scientific Reports.
The experiment by PhD student Robin Neville examined the mechanical properties of a kiragami object that exhibited shape-changing characteristics with the ability to modify its configuration through a method of actuation mechanisms.
(a) Synclastic curvature in the closed configuration. (b) Cylindrical curvature in the open rec configuration. (c) An open rec specimen folded double. [Image Source University of Bristol]
The shapes can also be constructed from thermoplastics or thermoset composite materials with integrated sensing and other electronic systems to create a "smart shape" able to alter its configurations electronically while monitoring the system performance. The lightweight material is an ideal compact sheet that can be quickly transformed into a variety of shapes ensuring multiple mechanical purposes in areas that may require different characteristics.
Fabrizio Scarpa, Professor of Smart Materials and Structures in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and ACCIS, says
"Mechanical metamaterials exhibit unusual properties through the shape and deformation of their engineered subunits. Our research presents a new investigation of the kinematics of a family of cellular metamaterials based on Kirigami design principles. This technique allows us to create cellular structures with engineered cuts and folds that produce large shape and volume changes, and with extremely directional, tuneable mechanical properties."
"By combining analytical models and numerical simulations we have demonstrated how these Kirigami cellular metamaterials can change their deformation characteristics. We have also shown the potential of using these classes of mechanical metamaterials for shape change applications like morphing structures."
Future modifications to the technique could see it implemented in robotics, modifiable structures for aerospace technologies, and even antennas to alter the frequencies it is able to receive.
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Written by Maverick Baker