Assembly of micro/nanomaterials into complex, three-dimensional architectures by compressive buckling

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Science  09 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6218, pp. 154-159
DOI: 10.1126/science.1260960

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Popping materials and devices from 2D into 3D

Curved, thin, flexible complex three-dimensional (3D) structures can be very hard to manufacture at small length scales. Xu et al. develop an ingenious design strategy for the microfabrication of complex geometric 3D mesostructures that derive from the out-of-plane buckling of an originally planar structural layout (see the Perspective by Ye and Tsukruk). Finite element analysis of the mechanics makes it possible to design the two 2D patterns, which is then attached to a previously strained substrate at a number of points. Relaxing of the substrate causes the patterned material to bend and buckle, leading to its 3D shape.

Science, this issue p. 154; see also p. 130


Complex three-dimensional (3D) structures in biology (e.g., cytoskeletal webs, neural circuits, and vasculature networks) form naturally to provide essential functions in even the most basic forms of life. Compelling opportunities exist for analogous 3D architectures in human-made devices, but design options are constrained by existing capabilities in materials growth and assembly. We report routes to previously inaccessible classes of 3D constructs in advanced materials, including device-grade silicon. The schemes involve geometric transformation of 2D micro/nanostructures into extended 3D layouts by compressive buckling. Demonstrations include experimental and theoretical studies of more than 40 representative geometries, from single and multiple helices, toroids, and conical spirals to structures that resemble spherical baskets, cuboid cages, starbursts, flowers, scaffolds, fences, and frameworks, each with single- and/or multiple-level configurations.

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