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Foldable structures made of hydrogel bilayers

1 Computer Science Department, University of Verona, Strada le Grazie 15, 37134 Verona - Italy
2 SISSA - International School for Advanced Studies, via Bonomea 265, 34136 Trieste - Italy

We discuss self-folding of a thin sheet by using patterned hydrogel bilayers, which act as hinges connecting flat faces. Folding is actuated by heterogeneous swelling due to different cross-linking densities of the polymer network in the two layers. Our analysis is based on a dimensionally reduced plate model, obtained by applying a recently developed theory [1], which provides us with an explicit connection between (three-dimensional) material properties and the curvatures induced at the hinges. This connection offers a recipe for the fabrication and design of the bilayers, by providing the values of the cross-linking density of each layer that need to be imprinted during polymerization in order to produce a desired folded shape upon swelling.
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