- Direct conversion of light into mechanical work, known as the photomechanical effect, is an emerging field of research, largely driven by the development of novel molecular and polymeric material systems. However, the fundamental impediment is that the previously explored materials and structures do not simultaneously offer fast and wavelength-selective response, reversible actuation, low-cost fabrication and large deflection. Here, we demonstrate highly versatile photoactuators, oscillators and motors based on polymer/single-walled carbon nanotube bilayers that meet all the above requirements. By utilizing nanotubes with different chirality distributions, chromatic actuators that are responsive to selected wavelength ranges are achieved. The bilayer structures are further configured as smart ‘curtains’ and light-driven motors, demonstrating two examples of envisioned applications.