Surface tension mediated conversion of light to work

David Okawa*, Stefan J. Pastine, Alex Zettl, Jean M.J. Fréchet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


As energy demands increase, new, more direct, energy collection and utilization processes must be explored. We present a system that intrinsically combines the absorption of sunlight with the production of useful work in the form of locomotion of objects on liquids. Focused sunlight is locally absorbed by a nanostructured composite, creating a thermal surface tension gradient and, subsequently, motion. Controlled linear motion and rotational motion are demonstrated. The system is scale independent, with remotely powered and controlled motion shown for objects in the milligram to tens of grams range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5396-5398
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 22 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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