THIS ANCIENT PAPER ART MAKES FLEXIBLE, SUPER STRONG ELECTRONICS

KIRIGAMI IS CHANGING THE WAY WE DESIGN MATERIALS

Flex Battery Video 

Thanks to the art of paper cutting, Kirigami, soon stretchable plasma displays and batteries will become a more viable reality.

Material design teams across the country are taking cues from this variation on origami—popularized in the US in the 1960s and used to make paper arts and crafts here ever since —to design stretchable and flexible conductors (materials that conduct electricity). Conductors are the basis of modern electronics: every phone, TV and computer uses them.

Researchers at the University of Michigan took a microscopic approach at Kirigami-inspired conductors, making small incisions in conductive material to spread stress over a larger, predictable area. Unknown and varying points of strain are the biggest obstacle when designing flexible materials, according to Dr. Nicholas Kotov, professor of engineering at the University of Michigan.

Jiang, who has been publishing studies using origami to make batteries, likens the technique of cutting conductive materials to cutting a out a paper doll chain, like a children’s art project. With this method, the ASU team is able to make pliable batteries without making them excessively thick, and Jiang says there’s no limit to how large the batteries can be—their only constraint is volume.