Light is able to move these materials

Light-activated devices, that’s what a group of scientists led by Fiorenzo Omenetto, from Tufts University, in the United States brings us.

In this sense, the devices have the ability to carry out precise movements that are visible to the naked eye, as well as to form intricate three-dimensional structures, without depending on cables or other materials to propel themselves or on some integrated energy source.

Its design arose as a result of the combination of programmable photonic crystals and an elastomeric compound, which can be created at the macroscalar and nanoscale levels so that they subsequently react to lighting under controlled conditions.

This is how through this line of research and development the possibility of creating intelligent systems driven by light such as high-efficiency solar cells that exercise their locomotion autonomously with the help of sunlight, following the direction of the sun, is envisaged. and the angle described by this star.

Also, this system could offer the possibility of creating microfluidic valves actuated by light or soft robots that work under this method.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of this technology, the team set about creating an artificial sunflower that would have the ability to move following a light source and then maintain its position relative to it, replicating the behavior of an authentic sunflower.

Regarding the photonic material, the team involved in its design provided it with two layers: the first made with a material formed by a negative coefficient of thermal expansion, which is characterized by contracting and expanding depending on the thermal sensation it adopts. . In the case of the second layer, the material from which it is made has a high coefficient of thermal expansion, being that it undergoes rapid expansion when heated. Ultimately, when light hits the composite material, the behavior of each layer kicks in, causing the material to fold as one side expands and slowly expand or contract on the other side.

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