Origami, the art of paper folding, only works when you fold in a specific order. Scientists at North Carolina State University have taken that concept one step further: with hands-free origami that folds itself.
Researchers used polymer sheets that were cut into specific shapes, which would eventually fold into a cube or an origami flower. Lines of colored link (yellow, blue, and red) were printed on parts of the sheet that would be folded.
They then used blue, red, and green colored lights to heat up the plastic. The printed lines absorb more energy than the rest of the material, and so specific colored lines would heat up when exposed to certain colored lights. For instance, when the sheet was blasted with red light, the lines of blue ink would heat up and begin to bend.
By changing the color of the lights, researchers could control the order in which the sheet would fold remotely .
Researchers hope this discovery can be applied to space technology, like folding solar panels on satellites, or even medical devices, which need to be assembled in sterile environments without humans.
Watch our video to see how the self-folding origami works.