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Wing origami

Conventional origami-based techniques for structural design have a limited range of folding patterns. An approach inspired by the wings of earwigs produces structures that were not possible using previous methods.

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Credit: Panther Media GmbH/Alamy

Origami-based design techniques have applications ranging from nanoscale devices to architectural structures. But conventional techniques have a limited range of folding patterns. Writing in Science, Faber et al. report an approach that overcomes this restriction (J. A. Faber et al. Science 359, 1386–1391; 2018).

The authors were inspired by the amazing folding abilities of earwig wings (pictured). They discovered that protein-rich joints in the wings behave like springs, and mimicked this design in synthetic structures using mechanical springs. Such structures show folding patterns and functionalities that were impossible using previously available methods.

Nature 555, 594 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-03775-4

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