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Bionic microrobot mimics the 'water strider' and walks on water

Date:
August 2, 2011
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Scientists are reporting development of a new aquatic microrobot that mimics the amazing water-walking abilities of the water strider -- the long-legged insect that scoots across the surface of ponds, lakes and other waterways. The bionic microrobot incorporates improvements over previous devices of this kind that position it as a prime candidate for military spy missions, water pollution monitoring, and other applications, the scientists say.

The water strider robot in action.
Credit: Image courtesy of American Chemical Society

Scientists are reporting development of a new aquatic microrobot that mimics the amazing water-walking abilities of the water strider -- the long-legged insect that scoots across the surface of ponds, lakes and other waterways. The bionic microrobot incorporates improvements over previous devices of this kind that position it as a prime candidate for military spy missions, water pollution monitoring, and other applications, the scientists say.

Their study appears in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

"Walking on the water surface is a dream of humans, but it is exactly the way of life for some aquatic insects," Qinmin Pan and colleagues note, citing water striders, mosquitoes, and water spiders. This is due largely to their highly water-repellent (superhydrophobic) legs. Other scientists have made tiny aquatic devices based on the water strider with the hope of developing bionic robots that can monitor water supplies, conduct military spy missions when equipped with a camera, and perform other tasks. But until now, no one has found a way to make water-walking robots that are practical, agile, and inexpensive.

The scientists describe progress on a new robot, with a body about the size of a quarter; ten water-repellent, wire legs; and two movable, oar-like legs -- propelled by two miniature motors. "Because the weight of the microrobot is equal to that of about 390 water striders, one might expect that it will sink quickly when placed on the water surface," the report noted. However, it stands effortlessly on water surfaces and also walks and turns freely.

The authors acknowledged funding from Harbin Institute of Technology and Natural Science Foundation of China.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Xinbin Zhang, Jie Zhao, Qing Zhu, Ning Chen, Mingwen Zhang, Qinmin Pan. Bioinspired Aquatic Microrobot Capable of Walking on Water Surface Like a Water Strider. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2011; 3 (7): 2630 DOI: 10.1021/am200382g

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Bionic microrobot mimics the 'water strider' and walks on water." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110727121653.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2011, August 2). Bionic microrobot mimics the 'water strider' and walks on water. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110727121653.htm
American Chemical Society. "Bionic microrobot mimics the 'water strider' and walks on water." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110727121653.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

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