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 October 20, 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 October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Robotic Eyes' Helps Japan's Bipedal Bot Run Faster

'Robotic Eyes' Helps Japan's Bipedal Bot Run Faster

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 16, 2014) Japanese researcher uses an eye-sensor camera to enable a bipedal robot to balance itself, while running on a treadmill. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lockheed Martin's Fusion Concept Basically An Advertisement

Lockheed Martin's Fusion Concept Basically An Advertisement

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Lockheed Martin announced plans to develop the first-ever compact nuclear fusion reactor. But some experts said the excitement is a little premature. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

Buzz60 (Oct. 15, 2014) A Google Glass user was treated for Internet Addiction Disorder caused from overuse of the device. Morgan Manousos (@MorganManousos) has the details on how many hours he spent wearing the glasses, and what his symptoms were. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Science Proves Why Pizza Is So Delicious

Science Proves Why Pizza Is So Delicious

Buzz60 (Oct. 15, 2014) The American Chemical Society’s latest video about chemistry in every day life breaks down pizza, and explains exactly why it's so delicious. Gillian Pensavalle (@GillianWithaG) has the video. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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