Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Do the Twist

Design flexibility of gold structures for medical implants and sensors is increased by twisting and buckling

20 July 2019

Do the Twist

Sharing creativity with architects and designers, bioengineers are exploring innovative ways to create intricate medical devices, albeit at a scale 10,000 times smaller than the Sydney Opera House. These tiny structures perfect a new trick – designs with a twist. A gold material is placed in patterns onto a stretched surface peppered with tiny cuts (top left). As the surface relaxes, the gold structures buckle, spiral or pop up into a 3D shape (bottom right), similar to the Japanese art of kirigami. As scientists know how the materials behave, these structures can be designed using computer models first, much like how computer-aided design is used for buildings and machines. Putting a twist into new artificial particles increases the flexibility of designs used in medical implants or sensors.

Written by John Ankers

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