Curtains that move in response to light could soon be a reality thanks to research conducted at the University of California, Berkley, in the US.
A team led by associate professor Ali Javey layered carbon nanotubes, which are tiny cylindrical structures made out of carbon allotropes, onto a plastic carbonate membrane to develop a new type of material that moves in response to light.
The carbon nanotubes absorb light, convert it into heat and transfer it to the plastic membrane, causing the membrane to expand and the composite material to bend.
“The advantages of this new class of photo-reactive actuator [a system for moving or controlling a mechanism] is that it is very easy to make, and it is very sensitive to low-intensity light,” Javey explains in a news release. “The light from a flashlight is enough to generate a response.”
The researchers believe this material could be used in energy-efficient buildings, where curtains could open and close automatically throughout the day.
The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications. Watch the video below to see how the material works.