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Research Zernike (ZIAM) News Seminars

Nathalie Katsonis: Bio-inspired strategies to amplify the action of artificial photo-switches

When:Mo 07-12-2015 13:30 - 14:30

The need for smart materials has motivated the design of a range of small molecules that exhibit mechanically relevant movements. These nano-machines provide tantalizing hints of the potential power of molecular materials. However, despite recent breakthroughs, the transduction of molecular motion into macroscopic function has remained elusive. In contrast, Nature uses molecular machines to translate energy into function at cellular and larger scales. We take inspiration from biological systems in order to amplify molecular events, up to the macroscopic level.

I will report on soft polymer springs that respond with motion to irradiation with light. These mechanical systems are based on liquid crystal polymer networks that are doped with a molecular photo-switch, and their operation is based on the differential contraction principle that is at the origin of plant coiling. Further, I will show that other helix-based devices can be designed by taking advantage of a fundamental principal of movement in plants – that shape-persistent elements with specific orientations are integrated into a flexible matrix.