Researchers at the University of Nottingham have just displayed a material made from light-sensitive molecules that change states based on environmental stimuli. The research, though still in its infancy, has implications of a range of possible fields.
The research, under Dr Graham Newton in the School of Chemistry and Dr Victor Sans Sangorrin in the Faculty of Engineering, is now available thanks to the journal Advanced Materials. They created a photoactive molecule to display the basic concept. If this molecule interacts with light, it changes from colorless to blue. However, this color change is reversible by exposing the molecule to atmospheric oxygen.
The team also showed off the material in printed form. By combining it with a custom-made polymer, they could process it as a composite material. Most impressively, this resulted in a material that could store data in a reversible manner.
Applications of Light Sensitive Materials
“We can now take any molecules that change properties upon exposure to light and print them into composites with almost any shape or size. In theory, it would be possible to reversibly encode something quite complex like a QR code or a barcode, and then wipe the material clean, almost like cleaning a whiteboard with an eraser. While our devices currently operate using colour changes, this approach could be used to develop materials for energy storage and electronics.” said Dr. Graham Newton.
The applications of the material are definitely the most interesting part of it. From a 3D printing perspective, a material like this could have multiple functions. For example, light sensitive materials could serve as a coloured input for light-reliant methods similar to DLP or SLA. It certainly would be great for colored prints. The findings of the study have the potential to increase the functional capabilities of 3D-printed devices. For industries such as electronics, healthcare and quantum computing, this data is truly invaluable.
Featured image courtesy of Victor Sans Sangorrin
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