The ability of matter to move light underpins such common phenomena as transparency, refraction, and reflection. But light moving matter? That's a bit rarer. So rare, in fact, that University of Michigan researchers refused to believe the results of their experiments for almost four years. As reported in the latest Science, they had discovered special nanoribbons so sensitive that light actually caused them to move. These ribbons are the largest pieces of matter ever moved by light, and their unique properties make them prime candidates for building nanomachines or light-reactive fabrics.
Originally, the researchers were investigating "superchiral" particles, which focus light into even smaller wavelengths than usual. However, the scientists realized that rather than just altering the light, the light also began to organize the superchiral nanoparticles. After a day of light exposure, the particles had formed into ribbons, and after three days the ribbons had woven themselves into nano-rope.
As soon as the researchers overcame their disbelief, they began exploring the applications of their discovery. One scientist is working on getting the nanoribbons to spin in the presence of light, essentially creating an artificial flagellum that could drive a nanosub. Another speculated that the light-warping effects of superchiral particles to create a cloaking device. And yet another wants to use the ribbons self-assembling power as a way to make microchips and other nanomachines.
Dare I say, a space shuttle propelled by light, slowly but surely getting faster?
so..gotta say I'm pretty amazed that on random chance while trying to focus light, these particles formed ribbons that then wove into rope! How amazing is that?!?
also, doesn't really seem that light is moving the particles as much as the particles are having a reaction to the light. although, i suppose since light moves in waves, the particles could have woven around each other in the pattern of the light wave...
"doesn't really seem that light is moving the particles as much as the particles are having a reaction to the light"
isn't that just two ways to say the same thing? if light moves the particles then the particles are reacting to the light. but i bet you are right about the braid being a result of the wave pattern. cool stuff.
How strong would body armor be if made of trillions and trillions of these nanoribbons woven into a fabric? I'm betting that, at the scale presented on the photo, the "rope" or braid isn't very strong, but each one woven into thicker and thicker strands until eventually you have one large enough for a thread, and I'm betting it's probably stronger than spider's silk or Kevlar at the same thickness.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the future. This is absolutely astounding. Self-assembling, light powered particles. I wonder how much light it takes to run this experiment. Could these spinning "nanoropes" be used to produce energy?
i wonder if you could make an anti-particle version of this that reacts to anti matter.. assuming that it does have some tiny moving particles which does result in some form of movement would be much better for space travel .. and if it somehow reflect those particles to create a mirror image of everything else.. that would be simply amazing
The article says that "the ribbons had woven themselves into nano-rope".
Does this mean we could use this method to make a larger ribbon for a space elevator? How about fibers in future textiles and other products?
we would love to use some crazy technology in our woven ribbons. I wonder how the future will change the textile market. www.renaissanceribbons.com