Creased materials accommodate strain primarily at the folds. This feature allows for the construction of bellows-like objects which are much softer than the constituent material. An example of an origami-like Kapton bellows undergoing compression is shown at right. Such devices present a promising new design for actuators operating at low temperatures, but the implementation is hampered by nonlinear effects such as fracture, buckling, and hysteresis.
In a joint project with the NC State nuclear physics group and Frederic Lechenault at ENS Paris, we are studying the nonlinear elasticity of folded materials. Improvements in our ability to understand the dynamics of folds under strain will hopefully contribute to actuator design in an ultracold neutron experiment aimed at measuring the neutron's electric dipole moment.