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  • Making Waves

    Harnessing Photons for Smart Materials

    Making Waves

    Harnessing Photons for Smart Materials

    Speakers: Jeffrey Koberstein (Columbia University), Edwin Thomas (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)Presented by the Soft Materials Discussion Group
    Reported by Sarah Webb | Posted May 30, 2008

    Overview

    Like the complex molecular systems that make up living cells, engineers would like to build synthetic systems that have their blueprints built into their chemical composition. Such systems would self-organize, respond to stimuli, and adapt. Though synthetic "intelligent materials" don't exist yet, researchers have made progress in understanding and building comparatively simple "smart materials" that organize to form regular defined two-dimensional structures based on molecular interactions such as hydrogen bonding and Van der Waals interactions.

    At the Academy's Soft Materials Discussion Group meeting on April 9, 2008, researchers revealed how in the world of such smart materials, light can play many roles: as a clean, inexpensive reagent for patterning surfaces, as a component in lasers that construct more complex 2-D and 3-D crystals, and as a medium that smart materials can manipulate.

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