A team made up of researchers from the University of Freiburg, Germany and the Kent State University in the US has developed a rubbery liquid crystal material that has the ability to tune lasers, depending on the way that it is stretched.
According to a report in Science, the material contains rod-like molecules that twist, giving them the appearance of a spiral staircase. These crystals can capture and reflect light, depending on the orientation of light to the molecules.
When light of a specific wavelength enters the material, the twisted molecules can trap it just as mirrors in regular lasers but it will re-emit the light at a different wavelength.
When the material is stretched in two directions simultaneously the molecular spirals shorten, causing the emitted light to shift towards the blue end of the spectrum.