Liquid crystals mimic gecko microstructures for adaptive solar panels

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Nature is inspiring the design of more efficient solar harnessing technology. We’ve seen designs inspired by insects eyes and butterfly wings. Now, researchers have turned to geckos for inspiration. Geckos' feet are covered with microscopic hairs or setae which allow them to easily grip walls and structures. Researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have tried to replicate such microstructures using a liquid crystalline elastomer (LCE) material that can bend towards light. LCEs are chains of molecules with elastic properties. When LCEs are heated, they lose their initial shape and relax to form new shapes. Once the temperature drops back…

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