Tiny gears increase light-to-work conversion efficiency by five orders of magnitude (w/ video)

(Phys.org)—Scientists have demonstrated that pinwheel-shaped microgears floating on a liquid surface can rotate at speeds of up to 300 r.p.m. when illuminated by an ordinary LED. This light-driven motion, which arises because the light creates a tiny temperature difference and, subsequently, a surface tension difference in the surrounding fluid, is about five orders of magnitude more efficient than other mechanisms that convert light into work. As the effect is not size-dependent, the...

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