A paper detailing a type of origami tube that is strong and reconfigurable will be recognized in May as one of the best studies published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2015. The editors of the journal have selected the research for the Cozzarelli Prize, an annual award for scientific excellence and originality.
Origami, the ancient art of paper folding, may soon provide a foundation for antennas that can reconfigure themselves to operate at different frequencies, microfluidic devices whose properties can change in operation – and even heating and air-conditioning ductwork that adjusts to demand. The applications could result from reconfigurable and reprogrammable origami tubes developed by researchers at three institutions, including the Georgia Institute of Technology. By changing the ways in which the paper is folded, the same tube can have six or more different cross sections.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Tokyo have developed a new “zippered tube” configuration that makes paper structures stiff enough to hold weight yet able to fold flat for easy shipping and storage. Their method could be applied to other thin materials, such as plastic or metal, to transform structures ranging from furniture and buildings to microscopic robots.