‘Flapping Wings’ Powered by the Sun – Could Be Used for Solar Energy Harvesting

This tiny wing could someday be used in robots or devices to harvest solar energy.
Credit: American Chemical Society

In ancient Greek mythology, Icarus’ wax wings melted when he dared to fly too close to the sun. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaceshave made artificial wings that are actually powered by the sun. The tiny wings, which can flap even faster than those of butterflies, could someday be used in robots or devices for solar energy harvesting, the researchers say. Watch a video of the flapping wings in action here:

Artificial wings that flap in natural sunlight could someday be used in robots or in devices that harvest solar energy, according to a recent study in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. ACS’ Headline Science shows the tiny wings in action.

Light-driven actuators — devices that convert light directly into mechanical work — have attracted attention because they are wireless and easy to control. However, to keep going, they usually require a high-intensity light source that can be turned on and off, or additional hardware. Ningyi Yuan, Jianning Ding and colleagues wanted to develop a flexible film that could convert natural sunlight into a flapping motion, without the need for additional hardware.

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