Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Baby Beetles Inspire Scientists To Build 'Mini Boat' Powered By Surface Tension

Date:
January 26, 2009
Source:
University of Pittsburgh
Summary:
Inspired by the aquatic wriggling of beetle larvae, a research team has designed a propulsion system that strips away paddles, sails, and motors and harnesses the energy within the water's surface. The technique destabilizes the surface tension surrounding the object with an electric pulse and causes the craft to move via the surface's natural pull.

Screen shot from a film of the rudder capability.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Pittsburgh

Inspired by the aquatic wriggling of beetle larvae, a University of Pittsburgh research team has designed a propulsion system that strips away paddles, sails, and motors and harnesses the energy within the water's surface. The technique destabilizes the surface tension surrounding the object with an electric pulse and causes the craft to move via the surface's natural pull.

The researchers will present their findings Jan. 26 at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' 2009 Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) conference in Sorrento, Italy.

This method of propulsion would be an efficient and low-maintenance mechanism for small robots and boats that monitor water quality in oceans, reservoirs, and other bodies of water, said Sung Kwon Cho, senior researcher and a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering. These devices are typically propeller-driven. The Pitt system has no moving parts and the low-energy electrode that emits the pulse could be powered by batteries, radio waves, or solar power, Cho added.

Cho envisioned the system after reading about the way beetle larvae move on water, he said. Like any floating object, larva resting in the water causes the surface tension to pull equally on both sides. To move forward, the larva bends its back downward to change the tension direction behind it. The forward tension then pulls the larva through the water.

Cho and his team-Pitt engineering doctoral students Sang Kug Chung and Kyungjoo Ryu-substituted the larva's back bending with an electric pulse. In their experiments, an electrode attached to a 2-centimeter-long “mini-boat” emitted a surge that changed the rear surface tension direction and propelled the boat at roughly 4 millimeters per second. A second electrode attached to the boat's front side served as the rudder.

An abstract of Cho's mechanism is available on Pitt's Web site at http://www.pitt.edu/news2009/Cho.pdf.

Footage of the boat is available at http://www.pitt.edu/news2009/curving_top_cho.wmv. A film of the rudder capability can be viewed at http://www.pitt.edu/news2009/rotation_side_cho.wmv.

More information on MEMS 2009 is available at the conference Web site at http://www.mems2009.org


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pittsburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pittsburgh. "Baby Beetles Inspire Scientists To Build 'Mini Boat' Powered By Surface Tension." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090121144105.htm>.
University of Pittsburgh. (2009, January 26). Baby Beetles Inspire Scientists To Build 'Mini Boat' Powered By Surface Tension. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090121144105.htm
University of Pittsburgh. "Baby Beetles Inspire Scientists To Build 'Mini Boat' Powered By Surface Tension." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090121144105.htm (accessed August 19, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) The Chasqui I, hand-delivered into orbit by a Russian cosmonaut, is one of hundreds of small satellites set to go up in the next few years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins