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Nano-kirigami/origami: A traditional artform advances modern electronics

APR 19, 2024
Optical scale structures that transform from two to three dimensions modulate optical properties for next-generation optoelectronic devices.
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To meet the demands of ever-shrinking electronic devices, some researchers are looking to traditional artistic techniques of origami and kirigami. The resulting field, “nano-kirigami/origami,” integrates artistry with science, making it possible to manipulate material structure, optical features, and electrostatic forces to produce improved optoelectronic devices.

Chen et al. examined the field of nano-kirigami/origami for optical applications and outlined the related materials, processes, and future steps for applying these techniques.

Traditionally, a kirigami artist uses paper and scissors, strategically cutting and manually folding to achieve 3D art.

“In nano-kirigami/origami, the materials are not as manipulatable as paper, and the paper is replaced by a thin film, 100 nm thick or less,” said author Jiafang Li. “Meanwhile, the scissors are superseded by nanopatterning methods such as electron beam lithography, focused-ion-beam lithography, UV exposure, etc. The manual folding is replaced by external stimuli such as capillary force, residual stress, mechanical force, and irradiation-induced stress.”

Because the size of nano-kirigami/origami structures is on the scale of optical wavelengths, the versatile transformation from 2D to 3D can modulate electrical, magnetic, and optical properties.

“We have designed and fabricated many nano-kirigami structures, which are usually inspired by elegant mathematical curves or traditional art,” said Li. “One of our favorites is the ‘pinwheel’ structure. With this exceptional design, we demonstrated for the first time that subwavelength nano-kirigami structures can have excellent optical functionalities.”

The researchers recommended further exploring different 2D materials as the mediums for future projects. They also suggest inverse design methods that can help to more quickly identify the 3D geometries needed for achieving the desired results.

Source: “Nano-kirigami/origami fabrications and optical applications,” by Yingying Chen, Xiaowei Li, Lan Jiang, Yang Wang, and Jiafang Li, Applied Physics Letters (2024). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0199052 .

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