Researchers at Harvard University have successfully designed a 3D material that is capable of changing its size, volume and shape. The invention of this material has opened up a new window in creating portable shelters that can be shrunk to fit in a bag. This new finding is published nature journal Communications on March 14, 2016.

This newly developed material is so versatile in nature so that it can get tuned and self-actuate. With the help of external force, you can easily alter the shape of this object, and when it is flat, it has the capability to withstand the weight of an elephant.

Johannes T B, the lead author of the study told that his team has successfully crafted a three-dimensional, thin-walled structure which can be used to make re-programmable objects of arbitrary architecture.

He also added that the size, volume and shape of this material can be tuned and controlled as per our wish. This cube shaped object can be folded along with its edges, and thus, shape changing can be initiated effectively.

Many experts claim that this newly developed structure is inspired by an origami technique called ‘Snapology’. Johannes T B and his team have demonstrated the shape-changing nature of this object both practically and theoretically.

The team has embedded pneumatic actuators in the object, which can be programmed for shape changing needs. Then, they made a 4X4X4 cube that can grow and shrink by connecting 64 of these individual cells.
The change in structure also changes the stiffness of the material. This material can be embedded in any kinds of actuators which include, water, dielectric or even thermal.

Chuck Hoberman from Harvard University stated that this new development will break the traditional concepts about shelter as this technology can develop retractable roofs and portable homes