Kazuko Fuchi – kfuchi1@udayton.edu
University of Dayton Research Institute
300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469

Andrew Gillman – andrew.gillman.1.ctr@us.af.mil
Alexander Pankonien – alexander.pankonien.1@us.af.mil
Philip Buskohl – philip.buskohl.1@us.af.mil
Air Force Research Laboratory
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH 45433

Deanna Sessions – deanna.sessions@psu.edu
Gregory Huff – ghuff@psu.edu
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Penn State University
207 Electrical Engineering West, University Park, PA 16802

Popular version of lecture: 1aSP1 Topology optimization of origami-inspired reconfigurable frequency selective surfaces
Presented Monday morning, 9:00 AM – 11:15 AM, May 13, 2019
177th ASA Meeting, Louisville, Kentucky

The use of mathematics and computer algorithms by origami artists has led to a renaissance of the art of origami in recent decades. Combining scientific tools with their imagination and artistic skills, these artists discover intricate origami designs that inspire expansive possibilities of the art form.

The intrigue of realizing incredibly complex creatures and exquisite patterns from a piece of paper has captured the attention of the scientific and engineering communities. Our research team and others in the engineering community wanted to make use of the language of origami, which gives us a natural way to navigate through complex geometric transformations through 2D (flat), 3D (folded) and 4D (folding motion) spaces. This beautiful language has enabled numerous innovative technologies including foldable and deployable satellites, self-folding medical devices and shape-changing robots.

Origami, as it turns out, is also useful in controlling how sound and radio waves travel. An electromagnetic device called an origami frequency selective surface for radio waves can be created by laser-scoring and folding a plastic sheet into a repeating pattern called a periodic tessellation and printing electrically conductive, copper decorations aligned with the pattern on the sheet (Figure 1). We have shown that this origami folded device can be used as a filter to block unwanted signals at a specific operating frequency. We can fold and unfold this device to tune the operating frequency, or we can design a device that can be folded, unfolded, bent and twisted into a complex surface shape without changing the operating frequency, all depending on the design of the folding and printing patterns. These findings encourage more research in origami-based innovative designs to accomplish demanding goals for radar, communication and sensor technologies.

origamiFigure 1: Fabricated prototype of origami folded frequency selective surface made of a folded plastic sheet and copper prints, ready to be tested in an anechoic chamber – a room padded with radio-wave-absorbing foam pyramids.

Origami can be used to choreograph complex geometric rearrangements of the active components. In the case of our frequency selective surface, the folded plastic sheet acts as the medium that hosts the electrically active copper prints. As the sheet is folded, the copper prints fold and move relative to each other in a controlled manner. We used our theoretical knowledge along with insight gained from computer simulations to understand how the rearrangements impact the physics of the device’s working mechanism and to decide what designs to fabricate and test in the real world. In this, we attempt to imitate the origami artist’s magical creation of awe-inspiring art in the engineering domain.

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