Researchers at RIKEN have successfully developed a revolutionary new polymer film that changes shape upon irradiation with UV and visible light.
Described in Science, the film is the largest-ever example of a material whose molecular elements are ordered in three dimensions on a macroscopic length scale, marking a breakthrough in techniques for molecular design and processing.
Living organisms depend crucially for their growth and development on their ability to assemble molecules into large, ordered three-dimensional structures. The same assembly processes offer an attractive means for designing materials and devices with novel functions, yet scientists have thus far found such processes impossible to reproduce at a macroscopic scale.
To overcome this impasse, the research group used a structure known as a “polymer brush” made up of a polymethacrylate backbone with outstretched side-chains, which together form a cylindrical shape. Azobenzene molecules, known for their propensity to deform when irradiated, were inserted into the side chains, and a free-standing cast film, created from a solution of the polymer brushes, was then tested for photomechanical response.
When no such response was initially detected, the researchers adopted a different approach, sandwiching the polymer brushes between Teflon sheets to first melt them at 130 °C, then “hot-press” them at 115 °C. The hot-pressing process, they discovered, aligned the main chains of the brushes perpendicular to the film plane, while the side chains oriented themselves horizontally along the stretching direction of the Teflon sheets. The resulting 3D molecular ordering enables the film to literally bend and stretch upon alternating irradiation by UV and visible light.
In converting light energy directly into a mechanical force, this remarkable photoresponsive bending motion breaks new ground in the study of functional materials, suggesting applications in the design of muscle-like biomorphic devices. As a technique, the combination of polymer brushes and hot-pressing vastly expands the scale at which such materials can be manufactured, promising to bring advances from the world of molecular processing to the macroscopic level of our daily lives.
For more information, please contact:Dr. Takuzo Aida
Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences