With continuous miniaturization of many technologies, robotics seems to be lagging behind. While the semiconductor technologies operate confidently at the nanometer scale and micro-mechanics of simple structures (MEMS) in micrometers, autonomous devices are struggling to break the centimeter barrier and have hardly colonized smaller scales. One way towards miniaturization of robots involves remotely powered, light-driven soft mechanisms based on photo-responsive materials, such as liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs). While several simple devices have been demonstrated with contracting, bending, twisting, or other, more complex LCE actuators, only their simple behavior in response to light has been studied. Here we characterize the photo-mechanical response of a linear light-driven LCE actuator by measuring its response to laser beams with varying power, pulse duration, pulse energy, and the energy spatial distribution. Light absorption decrease in the actuator over time is also measured. These results are at the foundation of further development of soft, light-driven miniature mechanisms and micro-robots.
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