Shape-morphing structures are at the core of future applications in aeronautics1, minimally invasive surgery2, tissue engineering3 and smart materials4. However, current engineering technologies, based on inhomogeneous actuation across the thickness of slender structures, are intrinsically limited to one-directional bending5. Here, we describe a strategy where mesostructured elastomer plates undergo fast, controllable and complex shape transformations under applied pressure. Similar to pioneering techniques based on soft hydrogel swelling6,7,8,9,10, these pneumatic shape-morphing elastomers, termed here as ‘baromorphs’, are inspired by the morphogenesis of biological structures11,12,13,14,15. Geometric restrictions are overcome by controlling precisely the local growth rate and direction through a specific network of airways embedded inside the rubber plate. We show how arbitrary three-dimensional shapes can be programmed using an analytic theoretical model, propose a direct geometric solution to the inverse problem, and illustrate the versatility of the technique with a collection of configurations.
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This work received support from the Institut Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (Équipement d’excellence, ‘investissements d’avenir’, ANR-10-EQPX-34) and from ANR SMART. The authors thank C. Blanquart for developing the 3D scanning technique and M. Lebihain from the Institut Jean Le Rond d’Alembert for technical support with 3D printing of the moulds.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Supplementary Video Legends 1–10, Supplementary Notes, Supplementary Figures 1–9
Dynamical behaviour of a baromorph under inflation and deflation
Parallel actuation of three baromorphs with the same design, at different scales
Bowl-shaped baromorph fitting a spherical cap
Large angle cone with a centred hole
A helicoid baromorph
Face programmed with the geometric inverse recipe
A mask baromorph
Actuation of a double layer baromorph
Actuation of an isotropic baromorph
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Siéfert, E., Reyssat, E., Bico, J. et al. Bio-inspired pneumatic shape-morphing elastomers. Nature Mater 18, 24–28 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-018-0219-x
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