Like origami, the practice of folding paper into shapes such as a crane or a butterfly, a team of MIT researchers is developing the basic principles of nano-origami, a new technique that may allow engineers to fold nano-scale materials into simple 3D structures.
The tiny folded materials could be used as motors and capacitors. Traditional micro- and nano-fabrication techniques such as X-ray lithography and nano-imprinting work well for two-dimensional structures, but they cannot create 3D structures. The MIT team uses conventional lithography tools to pattern 2D materials at the nano-scale level, then folds them into predetermined 3D shapes. The researchers have already demonstrated a 3D nano-scale capacitor. For more details, visit web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/nano-origami