By merging the ancient art of origami with 21st century technology, researchers have created a one-step approach to fabricating complex origami structures whose light weight, expandability, and strength could have applications in everything from biomedical devices to equipment used in space exploration. Until now, making such structures has involved multiple steps, more than one material, and assembly from smaller parts.
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.