Remote-controlled curtains are hardly even used, but a research team at the University of California, Berkeley is taking a step ahead developing a new type of curtains that react to light with no batteries requirement.

To make the curtain, the team used a plastic polycarbonate membrane and is superimposed by carbon nanotubes, this leads to the formation of new type of material that reacts to light rapidly.

And, this is where the photomechanical effect comes into play – the nanotubes absorb light and convert it into heat and this heat is finally transferred to the polycarbonate membrane. Upon transference of heat, the plastic expands while the nanotube layer is not affected. This makes two-layered material to bend. See the video.

Ali Javey, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, UC Berkeley said that the light from a flashlight is enough to generate a response to this window.

“We envision these in future smart, energy-efficient buildings,” said Javey. “Curtains made of this material could automatically open or close during the day.”

Light-driven motors and robotics that react to light are other potential applications, the team said.

For reference, read Photoactuators and motors based on carbon nanotubes with selective chirality distributions.

[Credit: UC Berkeley]