Saturday, July 3, 2010

Programmable Matter: Self-Folding Fiberglass

Posted by YouTube user:Kthan646

The above video shows a sheet of self-folding fiberglass created by MIT scientists arranging itself into two different simple origami shapes via electric stimulation. The sheets are each less than a half-millimeter thick and made of triangular fiberglass tiles roughly less than a half-inch wide and connected together by elastic silicone rubber creases. To make the sheets self-folding, strips of a "shape memory" nickel -titanium alloy(memory metal) the width of a human hair(about 100 microns) were embedded into each sheet and connected to a source of current via flexible copper-laminated plastic mesh ribbons.

Memory Alloys "remember" their cold forge shape and will return to that shape after being deformed in response to the application of heat. Certain memory alloys posses a "two way" memory effect, meaning they respond to both heat and cold by changing shape. So when electrical current is applied through the copper ribbons, heating the shape memory alloy in the fiberglass to 70 degrees C or more, the strips bend and fold causing the fiberglass to do the same. Researchers were ultimately able to use this effect to manipulate the sheets into specific shapes.

The hope is that experiments like this will help lead to the development of more advanced forms of programmable matter and "smart materials" capable of transforming into specific shapes on demand. While were still a long way away from that reality, the potential applications for materials like this seem to all but guarantee future advances in the field.

Links and Additional Content
Check out this article from Yahoo news For more info on this story and go HERE to learn more about programmable matter.
Video posted by YouTube user:Kthan646

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