Smiley cubes with real-life applications



Physicists from Dutch FOM Institute AMOLF in Amsterdam and Leiden University together with colleagues from Tel Aviv University have developed a method to design patterns that can appear on any cube’s surface.

AMOLF group leader professor Martin Van Hecke explains that if pressure is applied to, for example, a 10x10x10 cube, some of the sides cave in, while others bulge out. By stacking several of these blocks researchers could make three-dimensional structures. Their research is said to pave the way for the use of ‘machine materials’ in, for example, prostheses and wearable technology, as published in ‘Nature’ today.

“Although Van Hecke’s research is fundamental in nature there are applications on the horizon. This type of programmable ‘machine materials’ could be ideal for prostheses or wearable technology in which a close fit with the body is important,” says Van Hecke. “If we can make the building blocks more complex or produce these from other materials then the possibilities are endless.”

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