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Kent State Researchers Help Develop the First 'Walking' Polymer

Robin Selinger

Researchers from Kent State University and Edinhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have developed the world’s first material to convert light into kinetic energy.

The polymer material, which is the size of paper clip, propels itself forward when it comes into contact with UV light.

Graduate students at Kent State took part in the project along with professor Dick Broer  at Edinhoven.

Kent State professor Robin Selinger assisted and says the experiment has been in the works for a few years. 

The Broer group has been synthesizing different materials for a long time and they came up with the material that responds in an interesting way to light. So if you shine UV material, it actually flexes and moves. And these materials have been studied for a long time. A researcher could take a light sources and shine it on the material on one part of the sample and another part of the sample and make it deform in some kind of way.

Selinger says the material could be used for cleaning surfaces, such as solar panels in the desert to avoid dust build up.