Material scientists reconfigure gels using only light
2013 08 06

By Olivia Solon | Wired

Material scientists have managed to move and reconfigure a type of gel using only light.

A research team from the University of Pittsburgh has demonstrated the ability to manipulate hydrogels -- the material that most contact lenses are made out of -- and has published their work in Advanced Functional Materials.

Lead author Anna Balazs, a Pitt Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, explains: "Imagine an apartment with a particular arrangement of rooms all in one location. Now, consider the possibility of being able to shine a particular configuration of lights on this structure and thereby completely changing not only the entire layout, but also the location of the apartment. This is what we’ve demonstrated with hydrogels."

Balazs worked with associate professor Olga Kuksenok to explore the behaviour of a type of hydrogel containing spirobenzopyran molecules. Previous studies have shown that this sort of material has the extraordinary property of being "photoswitchable": in the dark it is hydrophilic (likes water) but in the light it becomes hydrophobic. It is by exploiting this property that Balazs and Kuksenok could use light to tailor the gel’s shape.

The gels appeared to "run away" when exposed to light and heat, showing "direct, sustained motion". They believe this could mean that they could use light to regulate the movement of a microscopic conveyor belt or elevator made from the gel.

[...]

Read the full article at: wired.co.uk









Related Articles
Light that Moves and Molds Gels
Light completely stopped for a record-breaking minute
Sound waves levitate and mix floating drops of liquid


Latest News from our Front Page

Document Confirms British were Plotting to Invade Germay Before Germany Invaded Poland
2014 09 02
The declaration of war against Germany had nothing to do with Poland, and was in fact a brutal war of aggression launched for economic reasons against the peaceful German people. As you can see in Judea Declares War on Germany. From dailymail.co.uk: An early version of the ‘King’s Speech’ reveals Britain was preparing to declare war on Germany before Hitler invaded ...
Study Claims Cave Art Made by Neanderthals
2014 09 02
A series of lines scratched into rock in a cave near the southwestern tip of Europe could be proof that Neanderthals were more intelligent and creative than previously thought. The cross-hatched engravings inside Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar are the first known examples of Neanderthal rock art, according to a team of scientists who studied the site. The find is significant because ...
EU Nanny State to Ban Toasters, Kettles & Hair Dryers!
2014 09 02
"Despite arctic sea ice growing by 43%, the EU nanny state is set to ban toasters, hair dryers and kettles in the name of preventing global warming."
Nigeria launches new biometric ID card - brought to you by Mastercard
2014 09 02
Yesterday afternoon, president Goodluck Jonathan became the first recipient of Nigeria’s new national eID card, in a ceremony at the presidential villa in the capital Abuja. The cards will be issued to 13 million Nigerians as part of a pilot project, with the ultimate aim of producing a national identity management system (NIMS). Nigeria’s NIMS is an ambitious attempt to consolidate ...
LA Times Now Describing Illegal Aliens As ’Informal Workers’ Who ’Labor Unofficially’
2014 09 02
Via Weasel Zippers, we learned the Los Angeles Times has a new term for illegal aliens in the work force: they’re “informal workers,” and that doesn’t mean they don’t arrive on the job in a tuxedo. Times reporter Tiffany Hsu (a "UC Berkeley grad") began her Saturday story with the new I-word (and illegal immigrants also “labored unofficially” in "gray employment"): Informal ...
More News »