Chemically Controlled Shape-morphing of Elastic Sheets

Abstract: Two-dimensional responsive materials that change shape into complex three-dimensional structures are valuable for creating systems ranging from wearable electronics to soft robotics. Typically, the final 3D structure is unique and predetermined through the materials’ processing.  Using theory and simulation, we devise a distinctive approach for driving shape changes of 2D elastic sheets in fluid-filled microchambers. The sheets are coated with catalyst to generate controllable fluid flows, which transform the sheets into complex 3D shapes. A given shape can be achieved by patterning the arrangement of the catalytic domains on the sheet and introducing the appropriate reactant to initiate a specific catalytic reaction. Moreover, a single sheet that encompasses multiple catalytic domains can be transformed into a variety of 3D shapes through the addition of one or more reactants. Materials systems that morph on-demand into a variety of distinct structures can simplify manufacturing processes and broaden the utility of soft materials.

Bio: Anna C. Balazs is a Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and holds the John A. Swanson Endowed Chair in the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She received her B.A. in physics from Bryn Mawr College in 1975 and her Ph.D. in materials science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981. Her research involves developing theoretical and computational models to capture the behavior of polymeric materials, nanocomposites and multi-component fluids. Balazs is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the Materials Research Society. She was a Visiting Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University. She has served on a number of editorial boards, including: Macromolecules, Langmuir, Accounts of Chemical Research, and Soft Matter. She was Chair of the American Physical Society Division of Polymer Physics in 1999-2000. She received a Special Creativity Award from the National Science Foundation. In 2003, she received the Maurice Huggins Memorial Award of the Gordon Research Conference for outstanding contributions to Polymer Science. Recently, she received the American Physical Society Polymer Physics Prize (2016), the Royal Society of Chemistry S F Boys-A Rahman Award (2015), the American Chemical Society Langmuir Lecture Award (2014) and the Mines Medal from the South Dakota School of Mines (2013). She was elected to the National Academy of Engineers (NAE) (2022) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) (2021).


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Media Contact: Ashley Cecil



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