Emily Birch has been working with us in the lab since this summer on her project Active Origami, an environmentally responsive architecture facade system which was just awarded the winning student poster for Research Scholarships and Expeditions 2018. Her project focused on developing a methodology for Bacillus subtilis hygromorphic bilayers with a latex substrate and suggest how this could translate into an architectural application.
Lab-based experiments will focus on accurate placement of Bacillus spore actuators, displacement and response rates to optimise hygromorphic actuator ribbon application in ‘active origami’. This project investigates using Bacillus spore actuators to change fold angles in origami to create an ‘active origami’ prototype for architecture. Some bacterial cells produce spores in hostile environments which revert to viable bacteria in favourable conditions. The two forms (spore/viable) have different dimensions, and for Bacillus subtilis, are adopted dependent upon environmental humidity. Since the spores expand in the presence of moisture, they can be combined in a two-layered material with a latex substrate to produce a hygromorphic composite, which deforms in the presence of moisture due to the different rates of expansion of the two layers. This deformation could potentially open or close the angle of fold in origami structures if the hygromorphic Bacillus spore actuator was applied as a ribbon along the folds.