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uniMorph: Fabricating Thin-Film Composites for Shape-Changing Interfaces

Researchers at MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group introduce uniMorph, an enabling technology for rapid digital fabrication of customized thin-film shape-changing interfaces. By combining the thermoelectric characteristics of copper with the high thermal expansion rate of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene, the research group is able to actuate the shape of flexible circuit composites directly. The shape-changing actuation is enabled by a temperature driven mechanism and reduces the complexity of fabrication for thin shape-changing interfaces. UniMorph composites can be actuated by either environmental temperature changes or active heating of embedded structures and can actuate in different shape-changing primitives. Different sensing techniques that leverage the existing copper structures can be seamlessly embedded into the uniMorph composite.