Nematic elastomers and glasses are solids that display spontaneous distortion under external stimuli. Recent advances in the synthesis of sheets with controlled heterogeneities have enabled their actuation into nontrivial shapes with unprecedented energy density. Thus, these have emerged as powerful candidates for soft actuators. To further this potential, we introduce the key metric constraint which governs shape-changing actuation in these sheets. We then highlight the richness of shapes amenable to this constraint through two broad classes of examples which we term nonisometric origami and lifted surfaces. Finally, we comment on the derivation of the metric constraint, which arises from energy minimization in the interplay of stretching, bending, and heterogeneity in these sheets.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
P.P. is grateful for the support of the NASA Space Technology Research Program.
©2016 American Physical Society.