Origami-inspired Metamaterials

Reconfigurable devices, whose shape can be drastically altered, are central to expandable shelters, deployable space structures, reversible encapsulation systems and medical tools and robots. All these applications require structures whose shape can be actively controlled, both for deployment and to conform to the surrounding environment. While most current reconfigurable designs are application specific, we introduce a mechanical metamaterial with tunable shape, volume and stiffness. Our approach exploits a simple modular origami-like design consisting of rigid faces and hinges, which are connected to form a periodic structure consisting of extruded cubes. We show both analytically and experimentally that the transformable metamaterial has three degrees of freedom, which can be actively deformed into numerous specific shapes through embedded actuation. The proposed metamaterial can be used to realize transformable structures with arbitrary architectures, highlighting a robust strategy for the design of reconfigurable devices over a wide range of length scales.


Overvelde, J. T. B., Weaver, J., Hoberman, C., Bertoldi, K., (2017). Rational Design of Reconfigurable Prismatic Architected Materials. Nature, 541, 347-352[News & Views in Nature] [Harvard News] [De Volkskrant]  [De Volkskrant online] [pdf]

Babaee, S., Overvelde, J. T. B., Chen, E. R., Tournat, V., Bertoldi, K., (2016). Reconfigurable Origami-inspired Acoustic Waveguides. Science Advances, 2(11), e1601019. [pdf]

Overvelde, J. T. B., de Jong, T. A., Shevchenko, Y., Becerra, S. A., Whitesides, G. M., Weaver, J., Hoberman, C., Bertoldi, K., (2016). A three-dimensional actuated origami-inspired transformable metamaterial with multiple degrees of freedom. Nature Communications. [NRC Handelsblad] [Financial Times] [Tech Insider] [Daily Mail] [The Telegraph] [Smithsonian] [ResearchGate featured article] [New Scientist] [Mic] [The Engineer] [TU Delta] [Harvard News] [pdf]