Origami-Based Optical Devices

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Inculcating origami techniques into metal films can open up connections between optics and mechanics

Nanokirigami is an approach based on the art of origami being applied to flat materials at a nanoscale. Researchers at MIT and in China have used this technique to create nanodevices and manipulate light.

Folding of metal films

With standard microchip manufacturing technology forming the basis of the methods used, the team used an ion beam to make a pattern of slits in a metal foil. Researchers said that the process can cause the foil to bend and twist into a 3D shape that has the potential of selectively filtering out light with a specific type of polarisation.

The changes in the orientation of the foil take place because of the initial ion beam itself. Ion beams with low dosages can push the lattice out of shape. The research has been termed as a connection between mechanics and optics.

Prediction-based functionalities

The developed equations can allow the researchers to calculate backwards from a given set of optical attributes and create the required pattern of slits and folds. The team has also suggested that the technique can allow optical functionalities based on predictions.

The technique provides a new outlook on the hobbies of origami and kirigami. The team advocated that the research is at an embryonic stage but holds possibilities for the creation of light-based communications, detection and computational devices.