Motivated by the self-assembly of natural systems, researchers have investigated the stimulus-responsive curving of thin-shell structures, which is also known as self-folding. Self-folding strategies not only offer possibilities to realize complicated shapes but also promise actuation at small length scales. Biaxial mismatch strain driven self-folding bilayers demonstrate bifurcation of equilibrium shapes (from quasi-axisymmetric doubly curved to approximately singly curved) during their stimulus-responsive morphing behavior. Being a structurally instable, bifurcation could be used to tune the self-folding behavior, and hence, a detailed understanding of this phenomenon is appealing from both fundamental and practical perspectives. In this work, we investigated the bifurcation behavior of self-folding bilayer polygons. For the mechanistic understanding, we developed finite element models of planar bilayers (consisting of a stimulus-responsive and a passive layer of material) that transform into 3D curved configurations. Our experiments with cross-linked Polydimethylsiloxane samples that change shapes in organic solvents confirmed our model predictions. Finally, we explored a design scheme to generate gripper-like architectures by avoiding the bifurcation of stimulus-responsive bilayers. Our research contributes to the broad field of self-assembly as the findings could motivate functional devices across multiple disciplines such as robotics, artificial muscles, therapeutic cargos, and reconfigurable biomedical devices.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)