Capillary origami: spontaneous wrapping of a droplet with an elastic sheet

Phys Rev Lett. 2007 Apr 13;98(15):156103. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.98.156103. Epub 2007 Apr 13.


The interaction between elasticity and capillarity is used to produce three-dimensional structures through the wrapping of a liquid droplet by a planar sheet. The final encapsulated 3D shape is controlled by tailoring the initial geometry of the flat membrane. Balancing interfacial energy with elastic bending energy provides a critical length scale below which encapsulation cannot occur, which is verified experimentally. This length is found to depend on the thickness as h3/2, a scaling favorable to miniaturization which suggests a new way of mass production of 3D micro- or nanoscale objects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't