Origami Without Fingers

Origami with regular paper can produce a limitless number of fascinating, beautiful and useful shapes, but we lack “fingers” at the nanoscale to guide the folding. Researchers in the Two-Dimensional Crystal Consortium at Penn State have conceived and simulated a novel way to “program” a folding pattern by patterning the nanoscale sheet with complementary regions of n-type and p-type doping. Such regions prefer to adhere to each other more than they like to adhere to themselves, and the boundaries between these regions define the fold lines of the final origami structure. Forcing the sheet through a small hole is enough to start the folding process, and controlling the shape and depth of such holes provides another means to influence the order in which the folds occur.