We envision the next generation of nanotechnology as machines that are active at time and length scales comparable to biological microorganisms. These machines will be able to change shape in fractions of a second in response to environmental cues, carry electronics, be fabricated en mass using standard semiconductor processing techniques, and cost less than a cent per machine. The key breakthrough behind this future? Autonomous origami machines made with atomically thin paper.
Drawing on the art of origami to inspire mechanical metamaterials relies on the ability to extract useful design principles from crease patterns. One particularly interesting pattern is the square twist. Not ony is it tessellatable, but the unit highlighted below has some surprsing properties.