Pic courtesy Pink Tentacle.
A research team at the Tokyo Institute of Technology has developed a plastic motor that is powered solely and directly by light. Unlike solar-powered motors, which use photovoltaic cells to convert light to electric power and therefore require wires and batteries to deliver and store the power, the light activated motor converts light directly into mechanical energy. The first of its kind motor achieves this by using a belt made from a special elastomer whose molecular structure expands or contracts when illuminated, depending on the wavelength of light. An 0.08-millimeter thick belt coated with the shape-shifting plastic is able to turn a pair of wheels measuring 10 millimeters and 3 millimeters in diameter at 1 rpm, and although the device is still quite inefficient in terms of converting light into energy at this stage, the idea throws up an amazing number potential applications.
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