Nanogami

Knowing when to fold – MIT News Office

They have worked out several ways to induce the nanomaterials to fold, including:

* Depositing metal (usually chromium) onto the surface where you want the fold to be. This causes the material to curl upward, but it does not allow for right angles or accordion-type folds.

* Directing a beam of helium ions onto the desired fold location. The beams imprint patterns that will cause the material to fold once it’s removed from the surface. High-energy beams go to the bottom of the material and cause it to fold up; ions from low-energy beams accumulate at the top of the material and make it fold down.

* Embedding gold wires in the material. A current running along the gold wires interacts with an external magnetic field, creating a Lorentz force that lifts the face. This technique is a form of directed self-assembly, where the designer provides the template and then lets the device assemble itself.

This is such a long way from anything but cute demonstration videos, but it’s nice to image applications for it.

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