According tomedia, some of the most useful tools can help you catch something. But what if this thing is very, very small? At this point, a new light-driven miniature gripper could come in handy — it is said to be the smallest gripper in the world. The experimental device was developed in collaboration with scientists from the University of Warsaw and THE University of Technology in Krakow.
To create the tool, the researchers first connected two fibers together, like a barrel of a two-barrel shotgun. Each fiber is 125 microns in diameter, about the diameter of a human hair. In addition, their tips are deposited with a liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) material. When ultraviolet light then passes through the fibers from their non-LCE end, it aggregates the elastomers, permanently forming two elongated cone-like structures.
Now, as visible green light passes through these fibers, the LCE cone absorbs its energy. This causes them to bend each other and grab anything between them. As long as there is green light, they remain closed, but once the green light is turned off, they turn on again.
“This is actually an advantage because some other materials require two colors: one is closed and the other is open,” says Dr Piotr Wasylczyk of the University of Warsaw. “We only have one, and it works on a switch.”
The study was described in a recent paper published in the journal Advanced Materials.