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Understanding how semiconductors respond to illumination has been crucial to the development of photovoltaics and optical sensors. But some light-induced behaviors have been less thoroughly investigated. For example, when some semiconductors are illuminated, their mechanical properties can change drastically, a phenomenon known as photoelasticity. Photoelastic materials could be useful in the development of flexible electronics, but researchers do not understand in detail the mechanism behind the effect. Now, based on experiments and simulations, Rafael Jaramillo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and colleagues present a new theoretical framework that explains photoelasticity in terms of lattice defects [1].

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