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Using an Elastic Surface for Reprogrammable Braille

July 11, 2018

MIE Professor Ashkan Vaziri's research on "Reprogrammable Braille on an Elastic Shell" was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

Abstract Source: PNAS

We describe a minimal realization of reversibly programmable matter in the form of a featureless smooth elastic plate that has the capacity to store information in a Braille-like format as a sequence of stable discrete dimples. Simple experiments with cylindrical and spherical shells show that we can control the number, location, and the temporal order of these dimples, which can be written and erased at will. Theoretical analysis of the governing equations in a specialized setting and numerical simulations of the complete equations allow us to characterize the phase diagram for the formation of these localized elastic states, elastic bits (e-bits), consistent with our observations. Given that the inherent bistability and hysteresis in these low-dimensional systems arise exclusively due to the geometrical-scale separation, independent of material properties or absolute scale, our results might serve as alternate approaches to small-scale mechanical memories.