Nematic elastomers dramatically change their shape in response to diverse stimuli including light and heat. In this paper, we provide a systematic framework for the design of complex three dimensional shapes through the actuation of heterogeneously patterned nematic elastomer sheets. These sheets are composed of nonisometric origami building blocks which, when appropriately linked together, can actuate into a diverse array of three dimensional faceted shapes. We demonstrate both theoretically and experimentally that the nonisometric origami building blocks actuate in the predicted manner, and that the integration of multiple building blocks leads to complex, yet predictable and robust, shapes. We then show that this experimentally realized functionality enables a rich design landscape for actuation using nematic elastomers. We highlight this landscape through examples, which utilize large arrays of these building blocks to realize a desired three dimensional origami shape. In combination, these results amount to an engineering design principle, which provides a template for the programming of arbitrarily complex three dimensional shapes on demand.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work draws from the doctoral thesis of P. P. at the California Institute of Technology. P. P. is grateful for the support of the National Aeronautics and Space Agency through a NASA Space Technologies Research Fellowship. K. B. and P. P. gratefully acknowledge the support of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research through the MURI grant no. FA9550-16-1-0566. B. A. K. and T. J. W. gratefully acknowledge financial support of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory.
© 2018 The Royal Society of Chemistry.