Light can put active materials into motion and humans can use this movement for development of new programmable materials which can be used for environment protection and deliver pharmaceutical substances, a study said.
Light of a certain wavelength can be used to put so-called active materials into motion and control their movement.
In future, this discovery can become significant in widely different areas such as environmental protection, medicine and the development of new materials that can be programmed.
Joakim Stenhammar from Lund University in Sweden led a study in which his team of international researchers developed a model in which patterns of light control the movement of active particles.
The results of the study were published in journal Science Advances.
The light makes synthetically produced particles as well as microorganisms, such as bacteria and algae, spontaneously form into something that can be compared to a pump.
The light makes active particles construct their own pump to move themselves around. By adjusting the light, it is possible to steer the particles in a different direction.
"Our strategy has the potential of developing into an inexpensive and simple way to pump and control bacteria and other active materials," Stenhammar said.
One possible application is to have active particles deliver pharmaceutical substances or nanosensors to specific parts of the body. Within environmental science, the active particles could be compared to targeted robots that can locate oil spills and then release chemicals to break down any contamination.
"Our results show how the properties of active particles can be used to design new materials that we are unable to produce today," Stenhammar added.