Plastic has been taught to walk when a light shines on it in an experiment that could lead to the creation of artificial muscles, its developers claim. The pieces of plastic are made from thermo-responsive liquid crystal polymer and a coat of dye. They can convert energy into mechanical motion – simulating a walk. Researchers from Aalto University in Finland say the plastic is a programmable soft-robot that could be used in bio-medicine. Their biggest breakthrough was being able to teach it to respond to light sources rather than having to use heat to warp the plastic to generate movement. Like Pavlov’s Dog experiment – in which a dog is taught to associate a bell with food – they ‘tricked’ the robot by using light with heat until it responded to the light alone. In a different but related experiment the Finnish researchers created a plastic ‘Pavlov’s Dog’ with modelling clay legs and a ‘hard body’ filled with a liquid version of the ‘walking plastic’ used in the main experiment that could ‘salivate’ when exposed to light The researchers from Finland say this new plastic technology could be ideal for biomedical applications as well as creating more advanced robots in… Read full this story
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