A cool approach to advanced photothermal actuators

Scientists have developed a photothermal actuator made from three layers, laying the foundations for better-performing electronics

A new photothermal actuator promises enhanced performance for devices used in applications from robotics to artificial intelligence.

Photothermal actuators convert light into heat and bend in response. They are generally made up of two layers: a passive layer and a thermal one. However, limits on their bending speed, bending amplitude, and symmetrical reversibility have restricted their use.

Now, a team led by researchers from Nankai University in China has developed an actuator that consists of three layers. The extra layer is a cooling layer that enhances actuation by shrinking through evaporation of water.

The team demonstrated their photothermal actuator in a new type of light mill, a fast-walking robot and a high-performance mechanical gripper.

The work could lead to better performing devices for use in a range of applications, including frequency switches, light mills and robotic grippers.

This article was first published by Springer Nature. Read the original article here.