We conducted the dynamic test on the chain of the TCO unit cells by applying compressive impact to the system. For the chain of the TCO unit cells (Fig. 1C), neighboring unit cells were connected mechanically by using M3 stainless steel screws and hex nuts. Also, a flanged sleeve bearing made of PTFE was embedded in the center of the interfacial polygon, through which the stainless steel shaft (diameter of 4.76 mm) was inserted to align the unit cell. In this way, a chain of TCO cells will have free axial and rotational motions while restricting the bending of the chain.

The left end of the chain (first unit cell) was connected to the shaker (LDS V406 M4-CE, Brüel & Kjær) through the customized attachment (see the inset of Fig. 3A) with a sleeve bearing (PTFE), which attaches the leftmost polygon of the cell to the shaker but allows free rotational motions. The right end of the chain (20th unit cell) was fixed to the rigid wall. The shaker was excited by a single-step voltage to apply compressive impact to the system.

To capture the dynamic folding/unfolding motion of the chain, we developed a customized noncontact DIC technique by using Python. To track the motion of each interfacial polygon, we used the color and shape as the features of a target marker. We attached a spherical marker to each corner of the polygons. For the color of the marker, fluorescent green was used to distinguish the marker of the polygons from the other objects. Figure S4A is the original image from the GoPro camera. With the mask based on the fluorescent green, we extracted the marker color area from the raw digital image (see the lower inset of fig. S4A). Last, we identified the marker from this filtered image by examining the shape of the extracted area and determined the 3D coordinate of each marker based on the triangulation method. By using three pairs of the action cameras, we split the field of view horizontally by three and captured the axial and rotational motions of the polygons along the longitudinal axis based on the stereo vision. The six cameras were calibrated before the measurements, and our in-house code processed the rectified images to obtain the 3D coordinate information. Figure S4B shows the axial displacement change of the first interfacial polygon mounted on the shaker attachment. For numerical simulations, we fed this experimentally obtained displacement data into the equation of the first TCO element’s motion.

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