A rapidly moving spring from UMass Amherst uses strategically places elliptical holes to create an efficient snapping motion through rotation.


  • Reduced energy use
  • Reduced waste
  • Increased efficiency


  • High performance robots
  • Robotic systems

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 12: Responsible Production & Consumption

The Challenge

Many human-made systems that convert energy from one form to another lose a lot of energy in the process. This contributes to the high cost of energy generation and the large amount of byproducts that end up in landfills.

Innovation Details

The spring is made of a bands with a unique arrangement of elliptical holes. The holes provide an area for the material to turn and collapse, unlike a material with no holes, where everything has to stretch and energy is lost. The ability to turn and collapse converts these bands into mechanical meta-materials that save energy through storing elastic energy as rotation, similar to the Venus flytrap. This stored elastic energy is used to drive the high-speed movement.

Image: Alfred Crosby / UMass Amherst / Copyright © - All rights reserved

Low energy loss elliptical holes versus high energy loss circular holes. Photo: Alfred Crosby/UMass Amherst.