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Science Technology

Plastic That Changes Shape In Light 123

JLavezzo writes "Picture a flower that opens when facing the sunlight. In work that mimics that sensitivity to light, MIT Engineer Robert Langer and his German colleagues have created the first plastics that can be deformed and temporarily fixed into shape by light. This material could one day lead to medical devices that build themselves inside a patient's body, or door latches that can be opened with a flashlight. Additional commentary available at The Science Blog"
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Plastic That Changes Shape In Light

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  • Odd examples. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BigZaphod ( 12942 ) on Friday April 15, 2005 @06:58PM (#12250585) Homepage
    Why do these "gee whiz" stories about new tech or materials always have such strange example applications?

    "This material could one day lead to medical devices that build themselves inside a patient's body, or door latches that can be opened with a flashlight."

    Okay, the medical one isn't so bad (except, kinda dark in a body)... but a door latch that opens with a flashlight? Huh?

    How about...
    - Plastic flowers that open in the sunlight!
    - Sunglasses that automatically lower in front of your eyes!
    - Light-based transformer toys!
    - Gag sundials!

    Okay, maybe this is harder than it looks...
  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mavakoy ( 730866 ) on Friday April 15, 2005 @07:17PM (#12250757) Homepage
    Could be useful on farms, or if you have a dog in the house and don't want to crawl out of bed first thing!
  • by ZombieEngineer ( 738752 ) on Friday April 15, 2005 @07:23PM (#12250812)
    This could allow retail level solar panels to eek out the equivalent to an additional 2 hours of peak sunlight over a 12 hour period. Initially this would appear to be a 10% improvement but in reality it is closer to a 30% improvement (I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to integrate sin(x.pi/12) from 0 to 12 hours [flat panel on the ground with the sun passing directly overhead] to yield 6.28).

    I should imagine the cost of the plastic is going to be far less than the processed silicon for solar cells.

    da ZombieEngineer
  • Some other uses (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15, 2005 @07:43PM (#12250978)
    CD that unwraps itself

    Condom that changes color according to your mood.

    All of these wonderful features with only one piece of plastic. Flashlight not included.
  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Friday April 15, 2005 @09:09PM (#12251539) Homepage
    I've had doctors tell me that if you have a bad wound in need of stitches but you don't have anything handy, superglue it. It dries fast and strong, and while it may not be terribly accurate it will stop the bleeding. And like the superglue that gets on your fingertips, it eventually goes away on it's own.

  • Windows (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phorm ( 591458 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:18PM (#12270434) Journal
    No, but we might want a window that does. Have it close up on a cold night and open to a warm summer morning to let the fresh air in...

If a subordinate asks you a pertinent question, look at him as if he had lost his senses. When he looks down, paraphrase the question back at him.