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Curvature from planar polymer sheets in response to light

Researchers at NC State have developed a way to create curvature from 2D sheets using only light.

The advance builds on earlier work by the same research team, which focused on self-folding 3-D structures. The key advance here is that rather than having the plastic fold along sharp lines – into shapes such as cubes or pyramids – the plastics bend and curve. The final shape is dictated by where ink is patterned on the sheet. Computer models (not shown in the video) can predict the final shape.

The polymer sheets in this video are pre-strained and exposed to light. The ink on the polymer sheets absorbs the light, the polymer gets hot and shrinks, which causes it to distort only in the inked regions. In the case of "indirect curvature", the interplay between the hot (soft) and cool (stiff) regions impacts the final shape.

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