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Like Magic: This Plastic Folds Itself With Just a Flash of Light

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Here's a sweet example of what New Scientist describes as origami for the lazy crowd. Watch as the material gently folds up after jus a little pulse of light:

Here's how it works. Researchers at North Carolina State University took plastic sheets and printed black lines along where they wanted the sheet to fold. New Scientist explains that the black ink, which absorbs heat, melts the plastic in just that location when exposed briefly to light. Hence, it folds up.

You may think this has no true application aside from amusement, but in a previous article on a similar self-folding technique, New Scientist reported researchers from Harvard and MIT as saying that while the technology may be limited to simple, origami for now, it could eventually be used to make "tailor-made objects."

Watch the Harvard and MIT researcher's technique,which uses glass fibre formed into triangles between which are flexible silicon rubber and a "shape memory" alloy foil.

New Scientist says the first folding technique is more practical as it uses existing commercial printing to achieve the fold.

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