AI News, Robotic crystals that walk n' roll

Robotic crystals that walk n' roll

They have developed robotic crystals that walk slowly like an inchworm and roll 20,000 times faster than its walking speed.

Using an infrared thermography camera and a digital optical microscope, the group observed that thin, long plate-like crystals with thickness gradient in the longitudinal direction walked slowly like an inchworm through repeated bending and straightening under heating and cooling cycles near the transition temperature on a hot plate, moving 1.5mm in 30 minutes.

On the other hand, thinner, longer plate-like crystals with width gradient rolled 3.1mm in 0.2 seconds, accelerated by tilted bending then flipping, under only one process of heating and cooling.

Although the scientists would need to further study how to precisely control the direction and speed of the robotic crystals for practical application, this finding opens a door to a new field of crystal robotics, and on a larger scale, brings us a step closer to addressing issues related to population aging.

Walking crystals may lead to new field of crystal robotics

The researchers, led by Hideko Koshima at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, have published a paper on walking and rolling crystals in a recent issue of Nature Communications.

'We believe that this finding opens the doors to a new field of crystal robotics,' Koshima told

In experiments, they showed that exposing the crystals to alternating hot and cold temperatures (changing between 120° and 160° C over the course of approximately 2 minutes) causes changes in the crystals' shapes.

Over repeated heating and cooling cycles, these shape changes translate into the mechanical motion of inchworm-like walking.

In experiments, repeated heating and cooling cycles caused these crystals to quickly roll across a surface, attaining speeds of 16 mm/second.

This was approximately 20,000 times faster than the walking crystals, which crawled along at just 3 mm/hour.

As the researchers explain, the asymmetrical shapes of the crystals is the driving force of both types of locomotion.

Both varieties of crystal experience a phase transition at a critical temperature, and due to the asymmetry, this results in a shape change that is more pronounced at one end of the crystal than at the other.

Reversible Photoinduced Twisting of Molecular Crystal Microribbons

9-Anthracenecarboxylic acid, a molecule that undergoes a reversible [4 + 4] photodimerization, is prepared in the form of oriented crystalline microribbons.

Analysis of this data suggests that the reversible twisting involves the generation of interfacial strain within the ribbons between unreacted monomer and photoreacted dimer regions, with an interaction energy on the order of 3.4 kJ/mol.

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