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Origami optoelectronics

(Nanowerk News) In a new paper in ACS Nano ("Highly Deformable Origami Paper Photodetector Arrays"), researchers present strategies to demonstrate the degree to which highly deformable properties, including stretching (up to 1000% strain), bending (±30°), and twisting (up to 360°) can be achieved in conjunction with high-performance photodetection through the integration of Miura origami, array design, and paper printing processes, even while using intrinsically brittle but high-performing inorganic electronic/optical materials.
Origami is the ancient art of paper folding, once limited to art circles, but now becoming of greater interest to science and technology due to the technique’s ability to adopt a variety of shapes and structures while also making the material easier to stretch and compress. Utilizing such folding techniques has enabled scientists to develop exciting technologies at both the macroscale and microscale, a foldable lithium ion battery, foldable solar cells, and DNA nanorobots for drug delivery.
Architecture of a Miura origami paper photodetector array
Architecture of the Miura origami paper photodetector array (OPPDA). (a) Schematic diagram of the OPPDA in the completely unfolded state. The first inset on the top right shows the 3D structure of a PD unit cell. The second inset in the middle demonstrates a period cell consisting of four parallelograms of the Miura origami and its folded state. The last inset on the bottom is a photograph of a real PD unit cell. (b) Photographic image of the device. (© ACS)
In this work, scientists combined similar folding concepts with a paper-based electronic device to achieve a 1000% stretchable origami paper photodetector array (OPPDA).
They fabricated this device by screen-printing zinc oxide nanowires and carbon electrodes on common office printing paper and then utilizing the Miura origami folding method to produce a structure that can expand and collapse with an accordion-like motion while maintaining reliable photosensing performance in the detection of ultraviolet light even under extreme deformation.
This stability is made possible due to the nature of the Miura structure, which consists of tessellated parallelograms. The parallelogram faces are divided by four-coordinated origami creases – three mountain folds and one valley fold – that join together at a vertex. This Miura folding structure orients the individual ZnO photodetectors on the parallelogram faces in four different directions, thus providing the OPPDA with exceptional omnidirectional photodetection in a manner that cannot be easily achieved using conventional rigid substrates.
"With the use of origami, we can improve the potential application and characteristics of paper-based devices," the authors cocnlude their report. "However, this origami-based concept is not limited to just paper electronics, but could also be used for other devices that feature hard materials in order to make it possible for them to be stretched or folded. We believe this highly deformable electronics design featuring the Miura origami structure demonstrates a promising direction for future developments in flexible electronics."
By Michael is author of two books by the Royal Society of Chemistry: Nano-Society: Pushing the Boundaries of Technology and Nanotechnology: The Future is Tiny.
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