Shape-Shifting Droplet Networks

Taking a cue from biology, researchers have engineered materials that, through self-assembly, fold into designated geometries. Recent work showed that sheets of aqueous droplets can assemble into a variety of three-dimensional shapes. Expanding on this result, Mark Bowick and collaborators at Syracuse University, have now demonstrated theoretically that such droplet networks can be programmed to reversibly switch between different shapes. This finding is a step toward biologically inspired robots that can change their shape according to their environment.