My watch list
my.chemeurope.com  
Login  

This 2-D nanosheet expands like a Grow Monster

20-Apr-2018

Richard Remsing, Ph.D., Temple University

Light causes crystal lattice to swell, opening new possibilities for artificial muscles, tiny electronics.

Grow Monsters. Expandable water toys. Whatever you call them, they're plastic-like figurines that swell when placed in water.

New materials science research borrows from this concept; only instead of water, engineers discovered that tiny crystal lattices called "self-assembling molecular nanosheets" expand when exposed to light.

The advancement could form the backbone of new light-powered actuators, oscillators and other microscopic electronic components useful in the development of artificial muscles and other soft robotic systems.

The work centers on a materials science concept known as photostriction, which means turning light directly into mechanical motion, says the study's co-lead author Shenqiang Ren, a researcher at the University at Buffalo's RENEW Institute, which works to solve complex environmental problems.

"We're using light -- anything from sunlight to a simple laser -- to cause the two-dimensional nanosheet to expand at an incredibly fast rate," he says.

How fast? Sub-milliseconds. The process is aided by the photostrictive effect, which essentially bypasses the need to create electricity to move something, says Ren, PhD, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The nanosheet -- made of the molecular charge-transfer compound DBTTF and buckyball molecules -- can expand up to 5.7 percent of its original size, according to the study.

While that may not sound like much, consider this: a 200-pound man that expands 5.7 percent would need to add 11.4 pounds in less than a second to keep pace with the light-triggered nanosheet.

Expandable water toys grow much more than that, but they do not revert to their original size. By contrast, the nanosheet does, making it potentially very useful as a light-induced actuator in artificial muscles, which has applications in everything from medical devices to industrial robotics.

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • materials science
  • new materials
  • artificial muscles
  • nanosheets
  • soft robotic systems
  • photostriction
  • Buckminsterfullerene
More about University at Buffalo
  • News

    Newly improved glass slide turns microscopes into thermometers

    The humble glass microscope slide may be primed for a makeover. A study published online in the journal Nature Communications describes how an updated version of this centuries-old tool can now enable scientists to see tiny objects while also measuring their temperature. The advancement, ma ... more

    Crash! Scientists explain what happens when nanoparticles collide

    Helmets that do a better job of preventing concussions and other brain injuries. Earphones that protect people from damaging noises. Devices that convert "junk" energy from airport runway vibrations into usable power. New research on the events that occur when tiny specks of matter called n ... more

    Liquid metal 3-D printer for manufacturing

    A father and son team in the START-UP NY program have invented a liquid metal printing machine that could represent a significant transformation in manufacturing. A breakthrough idea five years ago by former University at Buffalo student Zack Vader, then 19, has created a machine that print ... more

  • Videos

    A Glow-in-the-Dark Battery Technology

    University at Buffalo scientists have identified a fluorescent dye called BODIPY as an ideal material for storing energy in large-scale rechargeable batteries. Such batteries could one day be used to stockpile energy harvested from green sources such as solar and wind. more

Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE