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In Light Driven Micromachines, the fundamental principles and unique characteristics of light driven material structures, simple mechanisms and integrated machines are explored. Very small light driven systems provide a number of interesting features and unique design opportunities because streams of photons deliver energy into the system and provide the control signal used to regulate the response of the micron sized device. Through innovative material design and clever component fabrication, these optically powered tiny machines can be created to perform mechanical work when exposed to varying light intensity, wavelength, phase, and/or polarization.
The book begins with the scientific background necessary to understand the nature of light and how light can initiate physical movement by inducing material deformation or altering the surrounding environment to impose micro-forces on the actuating mechanisms. The impact of physical size on the performance of light driven mechanisms and machines is discussed, and the nature of light–material interactions is reviewed. These interactions enable very small objects and mechanical components to be trapped and manipulated by a focused light beam, or produce local temperature gradients that force certain materials to undergo shape transformation. Advanced phase transition gels, polymers, carbon-based films and piezoelectric ceramics that exhibit direct light-to-mechanical energy conversion are examined from the perspective of designing optically driven actuators and mechanical systems. The ability of light to create photothermal effects that drive microfluidic processes and initiate the phase transformation of temperature sensitive shape memory materials are also explored in the book.
This compendium seeks to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers by presenting the fundamental principles of this emerging interdisciplinary technology and exploring how the properties of light can be exploited for microfluidic, microrobotic, biomedical and space applications.