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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 27, 2024
  2. Abstract

    To develop active nanomaterials that can instantly respond to external stimuli with designed mechanical motions is an important step towards the realization of nanorobots. Herein, we present our finding of a versatile working mechanism that allows instantaneous change of alignment direction and speed of semiconductor nanowires in an external electric field with simple visible-light exposure. The light induced alignment switch can be cycled over hundreds of times and programmed to express words in Morse code. With theoretical analysis and simulation, the working principle can be attributed to the optically tuned real-part (in-phase) electrical polarization of a semiconductor nanowire in aqueous suspension. The manipulation principle is exploited to create a new type of microscale stepper motor that can readily switch between in-phase and out-phase modes, and agilely operate independent of neighboring motors with patterned light. This work could inspire the development of new types of micro/nanomachines with individual and reconfigurable maneuverability for many applications.

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