Similar to the dimpled circles on a fountain drink lid, a Purdue team has demonstrated that a patterned sheet of domes will form an energy-storing skin. With it, they were able to perform mechanical tasks and even store and process data like a mechanical computer.

Experimenting with actuating certain domes on larger grids, the sheet formed into a cylinder, a star or a saddle shape. So, individual bi-stable domes are combining to form a new metamaterial – hierarchical multistability – that can be used to power something like a simple robotic gripper, using two lines of domes. A provisional patent has been filed for this metamaterial technology.

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