Helical structures with switchable and hierarchical chirality

Huijuan Feng, Weilin Lv, Jiayao Ma, Wenwu Chang, Yan Chen, Jianshan Wang

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Chirality is present as a trend of research in biological and chemical communities for it has a significant effect on physiological properties and pharmacological effects. Further, manipulating specific morphological chirality recently has emerged as a promising approach to design metamaterials with tailored mechanical, optical, or electromagnetic properties. However, the realization of many properties found in nature, such as switchable and hierarchical chirality, which allows electromagnetic control of the polarization of light and enhancement of mechanical properties, in man-made structures has remained a challenge. Here, we present helical structures with switchable and hierarchical chirality inspired by origami techniques. We propose eggbox-based chiral units for constructing homogeneous and heterogeneous chiral structures and demonstrate a theoretical approach for tuning the chirality of these structures by modulating their geometrical parameters and for achieving chirality switching through mechanism bifurcation. Finally, by introducing a helical tessellation between the chiral units, we design hierarchical structures with chirality transferring
from construction elements to the morphological level and discover a helix with two zero-height configurations during the unwinding process. We anticipate that our design and analysis approach could facilitate the development of man-made metamaterials with chiral features, which may serve in engineering applications, including switchable electromagnetic metamaterials, morphing structures, and bionic robots.
Original languageEnglish
Article number194102
Number of pages5
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Early online date14 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2020
Externally publishedYes


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