Controlled by light alone, new smart materials twist, bend and move

Science Daily  March 12, 2021
The ability to topographically control photonic bandgaps allows programmable actuation of the elastomeric substrate in response to illumination. An international team of researchers (USA – Tufts University, Northwestern University, Italy) combined programmable photonic function with elastomeric material composites to generate optomechanical actuators that display controllable and tunable actuation as well as complex deformation in response to simple light illumination. They developed complex three-dimensional configurations, programmable motion patterns, and phototropic movement where the material moves in response to the motion of a light source. A “photonic sunflower” demonstrator device consisting of a light-tracking solar cell was illustrated to demonstrate the utility of the material composite. The strategy presented here provides new opportunities for the future development of intelligent optomechanical systems that move with light on demand…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Structure, mechanism, and optical properties of photonic optomechanical actuator. Credit: Nature Communications volume 12, Article number: 1651 (2021)

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