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

EU on high alert as Germany accepts Ebola patients
2014 07 30
A German hospital has agreed to treat Ebola patients amid widespread fears of a possible outbreak of the deadly disease in Europe. Over 670 people have already been killed by the disease in West Africa with doctors struggling to control the epidemic. A German hospital in Hamburg agreed to accept patients following a request from the World Health Organization (WHO), Deutsche ...
Bolivia declares Israel terrorist regime
2014 07 30
Bolivia has declared Israel a “terrorist state” and revoked a visa exemption agreement with Tel Aviv in protest at the ongoing Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip. The move "means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state," President Evo Morales said during talks with a group of educators in the city of Cochabamba ...
Pagan Traditions: Mysteries of medieval graffiti in England’s churches
2014 07 30
Medieval graffiti of straw kings, pentagrams, crosses, ships and "demon traps" have been offering a tantalising glimpse into England’s past. What do the pictures reveal about life in the Middle Ages? A project to record the graffiti, which began in Norfolk, has now been rolled out to other areas and is gradually spreading across England. Armed with just a torch and a ...
More Gigantic Holes Appear in Siberia’s ’End of the World’
2014 07 30
Is it the end of the world in Siberia’s ’End of the World’? Scientists suspect not, but they’re still investigating the strange and alarming holes that are swallowing up the Siberian north. This week two new holes have been discovered, and with similar characteristics as the first reported hole: a very deep shaft with smooth sides, debris surrounding the rim, and water ...
BLACKLISTED: The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist
2014 07 30
The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept. The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, ...
More News »