Cut or No Cut: Algorithm for 2D-to-3D Engineering Integrates Art, Nature and Science

The team’s work takes inspiration from kirigami, an East Asian papercutting art, to create a mathematically sound method of cutting and stacking flat materials into durable curved objects. The advance addresses a longstanding blind spot at the intersection of mechanical engineering and materials science: Hardwearing materials with high mechanical integrity lose strength when manipulated into … Read more

Turning Buildings into Carbon Storage Structures

The University of Pennsylvania will receive $2.4M in funding from the US Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) HESTIA program, which prioritizes overcoming barriers associated with carbon-storing buildings, including scarce, expensive and geographically limited building materials. In collaboration with Texas A&M University, The City College of New York, KieranTimberlake, and Sika, we will … Read more

Twisted Soft Robots Navigate Mazes Autonomously

Twisted liquid crystal elastomer ribbon

Autonomy is crucial for soft robotics that are constructed of soft materials. It remains challenging to create autonomous soft robots that can intelligently interact with and adapt to changing environments without external controls. Prof. Jin Yin’s lab from North Carolina State University collaborated with Prof. Yang to develop such kind of autonomous soft robots by … Read more

Pixelated Broadband Camouflage

2021 Nat Mater broadband camouflage image

Shu Yang of the School of Engineering and Applied Science has developed an artificial chromatophore that can change colors on command by taking inspiration from active camouflage in the animal kingdom. Made from polymer networks of liquid crystals arranged in helical shapes, these membranes require less deformation to change color than previous models, which could lead … Read more

Threading high-performance, self-morphing building blocks across scales toward a sustainable future

Inspired by biological structural materials, Yang, Liang Feng (Penn Engineering, MSE) and Masoud Akbarzadeh (PennDesign, Architecture) have received $4.6M grant from National Science Foundation (NSF) in collaboration with researchers at Princeton University (Andrej Košmrlj and Pierre-Thomas Brun), Rowan University (Xiao Hu) and Rutgers University Camden (David Salas-de la Cruz) to drive eco-future manufacturing of highly efficient structures and components that are … Read more

Open Medical (Our action to combat with COVID-19)

Doctor & nurse wearing origami maks

A team of medical device developers have come together to create a new respirator design to address the shortage of PPE in hospitals. This design is based on Origami – it does not require any sewing or other special equipment – just scissors, a zip tie, and an elastic band. Sterilization wrap (widely available in … Read more

Drops of liquid crystal molecules branch out into strange structures

multiple molecules graphic

Researchers made a variety of shapes, including flowers (center) and corals. By changing the ratio of long- to short- rod-like mesogens in the droplet, the researchers could control what shapes the droplets changed into when the temperature was decreased. A new study in Nature details the “weird” finding by showing how droplets containing short chain liquid … Read more

Reducing Energy Use with Building Skins

Yang on Reducing Energy Use with Building Skins

In the heavily regulated building sector, innovative materials face a major disadvantage: building codes. For this reason, and because climate change can’t wait, Shu Yang is using approved materials in new ways to bring her self-cooling building skins to market. Yang is motivated by having an impact. Originally focused on studying nanomaterials, she recalls attending … Read more

Superstrong, Reversible Adhesive That Works Like Snail Slime

Snail on tree trunk

A new study demonstrates a strong, reversible adhesive that uses the same mechanisms of adhesion as snails. When wet, the material conforms to the grooves on a surface and when dry, the material hardens and fastens itself securely to the surface. “When it’s conformal and rigid, it’s like super glue. You can’t pull it off. … Read more