Dr. Suyi Li Wins CAREER award

July 27, 2018

The CAREER project aims at transforming the ancient art of origami into a theoretical framework for designing multi-functional materials systems.  To this end, Dr. Li’s research group will try to harness the three-dimensional multi-stability induced by origami folding.   It is envisioned that these multi-functional origami materials can not only bear mechanical loads but also perform other duties that can significantly advance the performance and sustainability of many strategic applications, like the morphing airframes, adaptive wind turbines, energy harvesters, and medical devices.


Origami folding – due to its seemingly infinite capabilities of developing 3D geometries from 2D sheets – is becoming an increasingly popular subject among mathematicians, educators, architects, and engineers.  However, we are still scratching the surface of its potential.  The research will formulate a systematic method: analysis, design, and experiment, to fully uncover the physics underpinning the 3D multi-stability from folding.  Such physical insights will be exploited to create linkages to translate these stability properties into unprecedented material functions, such as on-demand property programming, static diode effects, and motion rectification.


Research results will also be leveraged to enhance origami as an engaging teaching tool through the creation of a book of origami folding exercises for teaching engineering.  The research will also lead to a Creative Inquiry project for undergraduates, in collaboration with the Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries program, on the design of origami emergency shelters in Haiti.  The outcomes of this project will enable new low-cost material systems to adaptively protect infrastructure systems from natural and man-made disasters and to increase the collection of energy from renewable sources.