Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have demonstrated a new material that can be programmed — and energized — to move by means of light patterns shining on it.
The material combines a Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) gel with spirobenzopyran (SP), two remarkable materials. BZ gel oscillates (sways back and forth) when exposed to light. It the oscillation at one end of the material differs from the other, it can cause the material to move in an oozing manner. Spirobenzopyran molecules contains ring structures that change shape when exposed to light.
Together, the BZ gel and SP give scientists two mechanisms that can be manipulated to result in differing types of movement. And because the light provides the energy for the movement, no batteries nor wires are required.
For now, the “robot” is about as appealing as an amoeba, but as one author of the study, Dr. Kuksenok, notes: “To put it simply, in order for a robot to be able to move more autonomously in a more biomimetic way, it’s better if it’s soft and squishy. It’s ability to grab and carry something isn’t impeded by non-flexible, hard edges. You’d also like its energy source incorporated into the design so that it’s not carrying that as extra baggage. The SP-BZ gel is pointing us in that direction.”
8-6-2021 (August 6, 2021) is the Snakiest day of the year and it’s also this year’s CircuitPython Day! The day highlights all things CircuitPython and Python on Hardware. See you there!
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.