Applying Kirigami Models in Teaching Micro-electro-mechanical Systems

Yung C. Liang
National University of Singapore


Kirigami is a Japanese art-form by making cuts on paper together with geometric foldings to form three-dimensional structures. This technique enables one to create visual presentation of an object in good and simple analogy. For the first time, the art of kirigami was applied in the classroom teaching of silicon MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) course. These MEMS structures are in reality made by complicated and high-cost silicon wafer fabrication processes named silicon micromachining, which consists lithography, thin-film deposition and etching processes. In the class teaching, the precisely scaled analogy of silicon micro-mechanical structures is created using paper material to form the appropriate kirigami models. By applying the physics of scaling rules for different material properties, such as Young’s modulus, density and strain limit, the properties of micro-mechanical structures if made by silicon micromachining processes can be experimentally predicted by the kirigami paper models. This innovative teaching methodology achieves an effective learning outcome for students to quickly understand the micro-mechanical system interaction with real observation, but without using any complicated finite-element computer simulation tools or going through high-cost silicon wafer fabrication processes.