Scientists Create Light-Controlled Gel

Scientists Create Light-Controlled Gel

Researchers have made a breakthrough in mimicking the camouflage effect of some animals, such as the octopus, that change shape for survival. Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh have created a hydrogel that can be controlled by light.

Hydrogels are used in products such as contact lenses and in microfluidic or fluid-controlled technologies. The scientists were able to demonstrate that their hydrogel exhibits biomimetic behaviour and can be re-configured and controlled by light.

The study used a hydrogel created with spirobenzopyran molecules. The gels exhibited direct and sustained movement when exposed to light, and could undergo dynamic reconfiguration when exposed to different combinations of lights.

The study’s lead author Anna Balazs says that the technology could be used in different applications, particularly for functional, reconfigurable, sustainable materials. She offered the example of changing the layout and location of an apartment by simply exposing the structure to light. The study will be published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.