A team of researchers has recently found a new polymer material that can convert ultraviolet light into mechanical energy for movement without the aid of electronics. The researchers have been studying how to create a power source that could control the movement of miniature robots that wouldn’t be too heavy for them to carry. The research team, including lead author, Jeong Jae Wie, assistant professor of polymer science and engineering at Inha University, South Korea; and M. Ravi Shankar, co-author and professor of industrial engineering at University of Pittsburg's Swanson School of Engineering, worked at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio with Timothy J. White. This research lead the team to monolithic polymer films created from a liquid crystalline polymer.
According to the article, Shankar said, “Our initial research indicated that these flexible polymers could be triggered to move by different forms of light. However, a robot or similar device isn't effective unless you can tightly control its motions. Thanks to the work of Dr. White and his team at AFRL, we were able to demonstrate directional control, as well as climbing motions.”
The team’s research was recently published in Nature Communications.
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