The recent development of new types of light-activated, conformation-changing polymers has stimulated much interest. These 'smart' materials offer new functionalities and may enable diverse novel devices. One possible application of these substances may be in optically-driven nanoscale actuators, especially in the case of devices in which a plasmon resonance in a precious-metal nanostructure is actively modulated. A one-way or two-way shape memory effect is possible, however, application at the nanoscale will necessitate certain design changes. Nanoscale devices based on these materials could conceivably be used for drug-release or to switch the spectral selectivity of a coating.