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Researchers create light-activated ‘curtains’

Jonathan Marker | Science Recorder | January 22, 2014

Researchers create light-activated ‘curtains’

“Smart curtains” could bend or straighten in response to the flick of a light switch.

According to a January 9 news release from the University of California – Berkeley (UC Berkeley), a team of researchers led by Ali Javey, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, has created a material that rapidly responds to light.  The material, created by layering carbon nanotubes onto a plastic polycarbonate membrane, absorbs light, converts it into heat, and then transfers the heat to the membrane’s surface.  As the plastic expands in response to the heat, the nanotube layer remains rigid, causing the layered material to twist.

“The [advantage] of this new class of photo-reactive actuator is that it is very easy to make, and it is very sensitive to low-intensity light,” said Javey, who is also a faculty scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.  “The light from a flashlight is enough to generate a response.”

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