New Light-Reactive Material for Smart Curtains & Light-Driven Motors


University of California, Berkeley researchers have layered carbon nanotubes onto a plastic polycarbonate membrane to create a material that moves quickly in response to light. The researchers were able to tweak the size and chirality – referring to the left or right direction of twist – of the nanotubes to make the material react to different wavelengths of light. The swaths of material they created, dubbed "smart curtains," could bend or straighten in response to the flick of a light switch. "We envision these in future smart, energy-efficient buildings," says Ali Javey, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences. "Curtains made of this material could automatically open or close during the day." Other potential applications include light-driven motors and robotics that move toward or away from light.