PerspectiveMaterials Assembly

Designing two-dimensional materials that spring rapidly into three-dimensional shapes

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Science  09 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6218, pp. 130-131
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa2643

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Summary

One of the hallmarks of living organisms, including humans, is the ability to actively respond and adapt to stress. Even plants, which lack a nervous system, react to different stimuli by changing their shape. Some well-known examples are the wrinkled edges of leaves as a response to compression during growth, wrinkles of skin to accommodate flexing and bending movements or age-drying stresses, or the mimosa's rapid folding of its leaves via propagating waves of osmotic pressure when touched. Similar phenomena have been used in engineered artificial two-dimensional (2D) materials that can respond to external stimuli, but these applications typically are simple, slow, and work only along one dimension. On page 154 of this issue, Xu et al. (1) demonstrate a new paradigm of designing functional materials that can quickly snap into complex 3D architectures via localized buckling.