Scientific Results

Photonics walking up a human hair

Year: 2016

Authors: Zeng H., Parmeggiani C., Martella D., Wasylczyk P., Burresi M., Wiersma D.

Autors Affiliation: European Laboratory for Non Linear Spectroscopy, 1 via Nello Carrara, Sesto Fiorentino, FI, 50019, Italy; CNR-INO, 1 via Nello Carrara, Sesto Fiorentino, FI, 50019, Italy; Dept. of Chemistry, University of Florence, 3-13 via della Lastruccia, Sesto Fiorentino, FI, 50019, Italy; Institute of Experimental Physics, Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw, ul. Hoza 69, Warszawa, 00-681, Poland

Abstract: While animals have access to sugars as energy source, this option is generally not available to artificial machines and robots. Energy delivery is thus the bottleneck for creating independent robots and machines, especially on micro-and nano-meter length scales. We have found a way to produce polymeric nano-structures with local control over the molecular alignment, which allowed us to solve the above issue. By using a combination of polymers, of which part is optically sensitive, we can create complex functional structures with nanometer accuracy, responsive to light. In particular, this allowed us to realize a structure that can move autonomously over surfaces (it can \”walk\”) using the environmental light as its energy source. The robot is only 60 ┬Ám in total length, thereby smaller than any known terrestrial walking species, and it is capable of random, directional walking and rotating on different dry surfaces.

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KeyWords: Fabrication; Nanostructures; Photonics; Polymers; Robots, Artificial creature; Direct laser writing; Dry surfaces; Energy delivery; Energy source; Functional structure; Liquid crystalline elastomers; Local control, Light
DOI: 10.1117/12.2214601

English