While those wonderful light sabers in the Star Wars films remain the figment of George Lucas' fertile imagination, light mills - rotary motors driven by light - that can power objects thousands of times greater in size are now fact. Researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California Berkeley have created the first nano-sized light mill motor whose rotational speed and direction can be controlled by tuning the frequency of the incident light waves. It may not help conquer the Dark Side, but this new light mill does open the door to a broad range of valuable applications, including a new generation of nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS), nanoscale solar light harvesters, and bots that can perform in vivo manipulations of DNA and other biological molecules.
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