A chaotic self-oscillating sunlight driven polymer actuator

K. Kumar, Chr. Knie, D. Bleger, M.A. Peletier, H.B. Friedrich, S. Hecht, D.J. Broer, M.G. Debije, A.P.H.J. Schenning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

280 Citations (Scopus)
304 Downloads (Pure)


Nature provides much inspiration for the design of materials capable of motion upon exposure to external stimuli, and many examples of such active systems have been created in the laboratory. However, to achieve continuous motion driven by an unchanging, constant stimulus has proven extremely challenging. Here we describe a liquid crystalline polymer film doped with a visible light responsive fluorinated azobenzene capable of continuous chaotic oscillatory motion when exposed to ambient sunlight in air. The presence of simultaneous illumination by blue and green light is necessary for the oscillating behavior to occur, suggesting that the dynamics of continuous forward and backward switching are causing the observed effect. Our work constitutes an important step towards the realization of autonomous, persistently self-propelling machines and self-cleaning surfaces powered by sunlight.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11975
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2016


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