Controlled mechanical assembly of complex 3D mesostructures and strain sensors by tensile buckling

Xiaogang Guo, Xueju Wang, Dapeng Ou, Jilong Ye, Wenbo Pang, Yonggang Huang, John A. Rogers, Yihui Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Recent research establishes methods of controlled mechanical assembly as versatile routes to three-dimensional (3D) mesostructures from patterned 2D films, with demonstrated applicability to a broad range of materials (e.g., semiconductors, polymers, metals, and their combinations) and length scales (e.g., from sub-microscale to centimeter scale). Previously reported schemes use pre-stretched elastomeric substrates as assembly platforms to induce compressive buckling of 2D precursor structures, thereby enabling their controlled transformation into 3D architectures. Here, we introduce tensile buckling as a different, complementary strategy that bypasses the need for a pre-stretched platform, thereby simplifying the assembly process and opening routes to additional classes of 3D geometries unobtainable with compressive buckling. A few basic principles in mechanics serve as guidelines for the design of 2D precursor structures that achieve large out-of-plane motions and associated 3D transformations due to tensile buckling. Experimental and computational studies of nearly 20 examples demonstrate the utility of this approach in the assembly of complex 3D mesostructures with characteristic dimensions from micron to millimeter scales. The results also establish the use of nonlinear mechanics modeling as a mechanism for designing systems that yield desired 3D geometries. A strain sensor that offers visible readout and large detectable strain range through a collection of mechanically triggered electrical switches and LEDs serves as an application example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14
Journalnpj Flexible Electronics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)

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