CU-Boulder engineering team awarded $2 million to develop mechanisms based on origami folding principles

By: Steve Tuesday August 28, 2012 0 comments Tags: CU-Boulder, Jerry Qi, origami, photo origami

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BOULDER - An engineering team at the University of Colorado-Boulder has been awarded a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a light-controlled approach for "self assembly" mechanisms in advanced devices based on origami principles.

Origami is the art of folding a single piece of paper into a complex shape.

Known as "photo origami," the idea is funded by NSF's Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation program, which supports interdisciplinary teams working on rapidly advancing frontiers of fundamental engineering research.

Jerry Qi, CU-Boulder associate professor of mechanical engineering, will lead the team developing the photo origami technique. Collaborators include CU faculty Robert McLeod of electrical engineering; Kurt Maute of aerospace engineering sciences; and Elisabeth Stade of mathematics, along with Patrick Mather of Syracuse University.

The ability to transform a flat polymer sheet into a sophisticated, mechanically robust 3-D structure will enable new approaches to manufacturing and design of devices from the microscopic to centimeter scales, according to the team.

Examples include using extremely low-weight, high-strength materials to create micro-electromechanical systems with complicated 3-D architectures that can be used for microscopic sensors such as antennas or microphones, and miniature robotic devices for environmental monitoring.

"One has to accurately control how much deformation a material should have in order to obtain a precise folding angle and to determine where to fold or stop folding in order to avoid interference in the folding path and form the desired structure," said McLeod.

The team will also work with local school district students and teachers to provide research and educational opportunities.



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