This Polymer Device Can 'Walk' When Illuminated…

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Scientists in the Netherlands and US have created what they’re calling the world’s first “light powered walking device.”

The tiny device, developed by scientists at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands and Kent State University in Ohio, is about the size of a paperclip and can “walk” at the speed of a caterpillar when illuminated. The device itself has just two parts: a rectangular frame and a piece of special polymer material that can “undulate and … propel itself forward under the influence of light,” according to a news release.

 

When exposed to light, one side of this new type of liquid crystal polymer contracts while the other side expands, causing it the material to “bulge.” When the light goes away, the deformation “disappears instantaneously.”