Just in my RSS feeds, I ran across two papers (1, 2) that made me think "deja vu" until I realized that no, these were two nearly identical papers. Both were using azobenzene derivatives, which have been known for decades to undergo a reversible cis/trans transformation under UV light, and both groups have now been able to demonstrate reversible bending of thin polymer films as a result of this. The first paper listed above was done by the Koshima group at Ehime University, while the second above was done by researchers at in the Yu group at Fudan University and others at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Both groups have videos of the results. The JACS publication was received December 22 of last year, while the other paper was received March 11 of this year. That doesn't really clarify who was the originator though. Lastly, the JACS paper does cite earlier work of the Chinese, but the Chinese don't mention the work of the other group.
Coincidence? Academic spying? Is Hollywood calling for the movie rights?