A Light Beam Can Cause Expansion And Contraction In A Novel Polymer

Just like some medicines that slowly dispense its essential ingredients in the body after experiencing a pH variation, artificial muscles will be developed in the future that could activate when the light fall over the skin surface. In the preliminary research, a team of researchers has manufactured a novel material that shows contractions and expansions simply by striking the light on it.

They have manufactured a special type of polymer that works on an innovative mechanism for triggering materials into different sizes and shapes just with an effortless stimulus.

Such types of materials are already been in trend in different sectors, such as in windshield coatings that change color under extreme sunlight intensity. These materials are being used in the agricultural and biomedical sector as well.

The researchers developed this material after thoroughly understanding a group of molecules, known as viologens, which are capable of changing color with the gain or loss of electrons. They believed that if these molecules were assembled in a schematic way, they would wrap up like an accordion because the regions of the molecules that receive a single electron identify each other.

For confirmation of 3D folding of the molecular assembly, the researchers incorporated the polymers into a 3D hydrogel that was water-soluble. When the team directed blue LED light on the gel, the wrap-up effect that followed within the molecule wrenched the gel, causing the material to shrink by nearly 90% of its original size. After switching off the light, the material retained its original shape and size.

Such type of system can be arranged in any form of 3D network to visualize the stimuli-based response. According to the researchers, the concentration of the hydrogel should weigh less than 1% to get the appropriate response.

Not only this, the researchers have upgraded their technology, such as making the gels with high elasticity and faster movements, developing the polymers that respond to more than one stimuli at a time, and activation of the system by striking different wavelengths of rays.

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