Engineers from the University of California in San Diego have developed material that shines when squeezed, stretched, rolled or bent, and it is suitable to create soft robots for underwater research and other works in the dark.
For their work, scientists have studied the bioluminescent waves that sometimes occur on the beaches of San Diego during the red tides.
For the manufacture of devices, researchers introduce the Pyrosystis lounula solution of dinoflagelyat into the cavity of a soft elastic transparent material. The material can be any form — researchers have tested various forms in their work, including flat sheets, X-shaped structures and small bags.
The devices can be charged with light. Dinoflagellyats are photosynthetic, that is, they use sunlight to produce food and energy. The bright light on the devices during the day gives them the energy they need to shine at night.
The biggest problem was how to maintain the life and prosperity of dinoflagellates within material structures, said scientists. The most difficult thing was to access oxygen. The researchers solved the problem by making the material porosous enough to miss the gases, but to keep the cultures inside.
The devices are so sensitive that even a light touch is enough to light up the work. Researchers have forced the devices to glow, vibrating them, drawing them on their surfaces and blowing them up with air. This means that even a light air flow will be enough to allow robots to shine. You can control the device with small magnets.