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Concept: Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe


Reconfigurable devices, whose shape can be drastically altered, are central to expandable shelters, deployable space structures, reversible encapsulation systems and medical tools and robots. All these applications require structures whose shape can be actively controlled, both for deployment and to conform to the surrounding environment. While most current reconfigurable designs are application specific, here we present a mechanical metamaterial with tunable shape, volume and stiffness. Our approach exploits a simple modular origami-like design consisting of rigid faces and hinges, which are connected to form a periodic structure consisting of extruded cubes. We show both analytically and experimentally that the transformable metamaterial has three degrees of freedom, which can be actively deformed into numerous specific shapes through embedded actuation. The proposed metamaterial can be used to realize transformable structures with arbitrary architectures, highlighting a robust strategy for the design of reconfigurable devices over a wide range of length scales.

Concepts: Volume, Structure, Thermodynamics, Engineering, Classical mechanics, Design, Shape, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe


Mechanical metamaterials exhibit unusual properties through the shape and movement of their engineered subunits. This work presents a new investigation of the Poisson’s ratios of a family of cellular metamaterials based on Kirigami design principles. Kirigami is the art of cutting and folding paper to obtain 3D shapes. This technique allows us to create cellular structures with engineered cuts and folds that produce large shape and volume changes, and with extremely directional, tuneable mechanical properties. We demonstrate how to produce these structures from flat sheets of composite materials. By a combination of analytical models and numerical simulations we show how these Kirigami cellular metamaterials can change their deformation characteristics. We also demonstrate the potential of using these classes of mechanical metamaterials for shape change applications like morphing structures.

Concepts: Structure, Engineering, Materials science, Change, Design, Shape, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Engineered wood


Ceria nanoparticles (nanoceria) are well known as a superoxide scavenger. However, inherent superoxide-scavenging ability has only been found in the nanoceria with sizes of less than 5 nm and with very limited shape diversity. Reported herein is a strategy to significantly improve the superoxide-scavenging activity of nanoceria sized at greater than 5 nm. The nanoceria with sizes of greater than 5 nm, with different shapes, and with a negligible Ce(3+) /Ce(4+) ratio can acquire remarkable superoxide-scavenging abilities through electron transfer. This method will make it possible to develop nanoceria-based superoxide-scavengers with long-acting activity and tailorable characteristics.

Concepts: Electron, Shape, Statistical shape analysis, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe


Liquid crystalline (LC) materials, such as actin or tubulin networks, are known to be capable of deforming the shape of cells. Here, elements of that behavior are reproduced in a synthetic system, namely, a giant vesicle suspended in a LC, which we view as a first step toward the preparation of active, anisotropic hybrid systems that mimic some of the functionality encountered in biological systems. To that end, we rely on a coupled particle-continuum representation of deformable networks in a nematic LC represented at the level of a Landau-de Gennes free energy functional. Our results indicate that, depending on its elastic properties, the LC is indeed able to deform the vesicle until it reaches an equilibrium, anisotropic shape. The magnitude of the deformation is determined by a balance of elastic and surface forces. For perpendicular anchoring at the vesicle, a Saturn ring defect forms along the equatorial plane, and the vesicle adopts a pancake-like, oblate shape. For degenerate planar anchoring at the vesicle, two boojum defects are formed at the poles of the vesicle, which adopts an elongated, spheroidal shape. During the deformation, the volume of the topological defects in the LC shrinks considerably as the curvature of the vesicle increases. These predictions are confirmed by our experimental observations of spindle-like shapes in experiments with giant unilamellar vesicles with planar anchoring. We find that the tension of the vesicle suppresses vesicle deformation, whereas anchoring strength and large elastic constants promote shape anisotropy.

Concepts: Force, Young's modulus, Crystallographic defect, Liquid crystal, Deformation, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Plastic deformation in solids


The Earth’s lowermost mantle large low velocity provinces are accompanied by small-scale ultralow velocity zones in localized regions on the core-mantle boundary. Large low velocity provinces are hypothesized to be caused by large-scale compositional heterogeneity (i.e., thermochemical piles). The origin of ultralow velocity zones, however, remains elusive. Here we perform three-dimensional geodynamical calculations to show that the current locations and shapes of ultralow velocity zones are related to their cause. We find that the hottest lowermost mantle regions are commonly located well within the interiors of thermochemical piles. In contrast, accumulations of ultradense compositionally distinct material occur as discontinuous patches along the margins of thermochemical piles and have asymmetrical cross-sectional shape. Furthermore, the lateral morphology of these patches provides insight into mantle flow directions and long-term stability. The global distribution and large variations of morphology of ultralow velocity zones validate a compositionally distinct origin for most ultralow velocity zones.Ultralow velocity zones are detected on the core-mantle boundary, but their origin is enigmatic. Here, the authors find that the global distribution and large variations of morphology of ultralow velocity zones are consistent with most having a compositionally-distinct origin.

Concepts: Causality, Earth, Thermodynamics, Shape, Mantle, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Core–mantle boundary, Post-perovskite


Because of the edge states and quantum confinement, the shape and size of graphene nanostructures dictate their electrical, optical, magnetic and chemical properties. The current synthesis methods for graphene nanostructures do not produce large quantities of graphene nanostructures that are easily transferable to different substrates/solvents, do not produce graphene nanostructures of different and controlled shapes, or do not allow control of GN dimensions over a wide range (up to 100 nm). Here we report the production of graphene nanostructures with predetermined shapes (square, rectangle, triangle and ribbon) and controlled dimensions. This is achieved by diamond-edge-induced nanotomy (nanoscale-cutting) of graphite into graphite nanoblocks, which are then exfoliated. Our results show that the edges of the produced graphene nanostructures are straight and relatively smooth with an I(D)/I(G) of 0.22-0.28 and roughness <1 nm. Further, thin films of GN-ribbons exhibit a bandgap evolution with width reduction (0, 10 and ~35 meV for 50, 25 and 15 nm, respectively).

Concepts: Electron, Quantum mechanics, Quantum dot, Carbon, Shape, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, The Edge


Nonarbitrary mappings between sound and shape (i.e., the bouba-kiki effect) have been shown across different cultures and early in development; however, the level of processing at which this effect arises remains unclear. Here we show that the mapping occurs prior to conscious awareness of the visual stimuli. Under continuous flash suppression, congruent stimuli (e.g., “kiki” inside an angular shape) broke through to conscious awareness faster than incongruent stimuli. This was true even when we trained people to pair unfamiliar letters with auditory word forms, a result showing that the effect was driven by the phonology, not the visual features, of the letters. Furthermore, visibility thresholds of the shapes decreased when they were preceded by a congruent auditory word form in a masking paradigm. Taken together, our results suggest that sound-shape mapping can occur automatically prior to conscious awareness of visual shapes, and that sensory congruence facilitates conscious awareness of a stimulus being present.

Concepts: Consciousness, Similarity, Shape, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe


Here we report an unconventional strategy for crafting light-driven shape memory porous films (SMPFs) by judiciously constructing highly ordered porous films via a facile “breath figure” approach, followed by sequential vapor crosslinking and nondestructive directional light manipulation. The latter can conveniently and precisely transform round micropores into other shapes including round-rectangle, round-rhombus and size-reduced micropores at room temperature. Importantly, the transformed micropores can be perfectly reverted to original shapes by either thermal annealing or UV irradiation. As such, this strategy expands the rich diversity of SMPs accessible, particularly SMPFs of different shapes, compositions and functionalities, and has promising potential to underpin future advances in electronics, photonics, robust membrane for efficient separation and purification, functional biomaterials for the regenerative therapy, among other areas.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Metallurgy, Transform, Shape, Annealing, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Transform fault


Daily-life foldable items, such as popup tents, the curved origami sculptures exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art of New York, overstrained bicycle wheels, released bilayered microrings and strained cyclic macromolecules, are made of rings buckled or folded in tridimensional saddle shapes. Surprisingly, despite their popularity and their technological and artistic importance, the design of such rings remains essentially empirical. Here we study experimentally the tridimensional buckling of rings on folded paper rings, lithographically processed foldable microrings, human-size wood sculptures or closed arcs of Slinky springs. The general shape adopted by these rings can be described by a single continuous parameter, the overcurvature. An analytical model based on the minimization of the energy of overcurved rings reproduces quantitatively their shape and buckling behaviour. The model also provides guidelines on how to efficiently fold rings for the design of space-saving objects.

Concepts: Science, Topology, Das Model, Metric space, Shape, Modern art, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Museum of Modern Art


A major challenge for visual recognition is to describe shapes flexibly enough to allow generalization over different views. Computer vision models have championed a potential solution in medial-axis shape skeletons-hierarchically arranged geometric structures that are robust to deformations like bending and stretching. In the experiments reported here, we exploited an old, unheralded, and exceptionally simple paradigm to reveal the presence and nature of shape skeletons in human vision. When participants independently viewed a shape on a touch-sensitive tablet computer and simply tapped the shape anywhere they wished, the aggregated touches formed the shape’s medial-axis skeleton. This pattern held across several shape variations, demonstrating profound and predictable influences of even subtle border perturbations and amodally filled-in regions. This phenomenon reveals novel properties of shape representation and demonstrates (in an unusually direct way) how deep and otherwise-hidden visual processes can directly control simple behaviors, even while observers are completely unaware of their existence.

Concepts: Structure, Visual perception, Demonstration, Tablet PC, Skeleton, Shape, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Touchscreen