Navigation Links
NSF Emerging Frontiers' program supports development of smart materials based on study of fish
Date:8/19/2009

Blacksburg, Va. -- After engineers and scientists at Virginia Tech, Harvard and Drexel finish studying the locomotion of fish in water, Michael Phelps may find he still has a few new ways to increase his own world-breaking Olympic times.

The remarkable ability of fish to maneuver in tight places, or to hover in one area efficiently, or to accelerate in a seemingly effortless fashion has researchers wondering if they can create smarter materials that emulate the biology of these vertebrates.

With an eye towards homeland defense needs, engineers have also noted that fish through neuromasts or 'hairs' in the lateral line are able to sense very small changes in their watery environment that allows them to detect and track prey and to form hydrodynamic images of the environment.

Michael Philen, assistant professor of aerospace and ocean engineering (AOE) at Virginia Tech, has pulled together a team of researchers to study these abilities and hopefully develop biologically inspired material systems that have hierarchically structured sensing, actuation, and intelligent control. This research will lead to state-of-the-art advanced materials that can intelligently sense and actuate a network of distributed robust sensors and actuators.

Philen has prior experience in this area. As a post doctoral researcher at Penn State, he spent time on a three-year project with the Defense Army Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a new structure/actuation system inspired by the mechanical, chemical, and electrical properties of plants.

Philen's proposal to the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation program to study fish to create smarter materials has received $1.95 million in funding. Philen's co-principal investigators are Harry Dorn, professor of chemistry, and Don Leo, associate dean of engineering, both at Virginia Tech. George Lauder, a professor of biology at Harvard, and James Tangorra, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics at Drexel, round out the team.

Working together, the team will develop distributed sensors and actuators using nanotechnology, advanced composite technology, and smart polymeric materials for understanding the organization and structure of the control systems fish use for sensing and maneuvering.

With the inclusion of Harvard University, the research team also plans to develop a traveling exhibit on robotic fish that showcases the biology of aquatic propulsion, new actuator and sensing technologies and how these can be integrated to design a robotic fish. Harvard's Museum of Natural History (http://www.hmnh.harvard.edu/ with its links to "Kids and Families" and "Educators" receive some 33,000 school-aged visitors each year. They will have access to the robotic fish exhibit on line through this site.

Lisa McNair of Virginia Tech's Engineering Education Department, an expert on applying theories of interdisciplinary collaboration in research and teaching practices, will work with the Harvard Museum to assess the impact on the students' understanding of the biological mechanisms that allow fish to sense, swim and maneuver efficiently with minimal processing.

Philen explained that over the past 20 years experts such as George Lauder from Harvard have investigated a number of aspects of fish control systems for movement. These studies have shown that fish possess a two-gear muscular system that controls movement. One is for slow-speed movement and the other is for rapid movements and escape responses.

"Despite this progress, there is still very little understanding of the structure and organization of the hierarchical control systems in fish or how the actuation and sensing systems are integrated to perform steady and maneuvering locomotor tasks," Philen said. "Researchers have explored various system identification techniques for characterizing and understanding a number of biological systems, such as insect walking, renal autoregulation in rats, and locomotor oscillators in the spinal cords of lampreys. However, little or no research has been done on the hierarchal control systems found in fish."

The team of researchers plans to create a robotic fish-like underwater vehicle by integrating their biological investigations of the fish with engineering knowledge about sensors and actuators.

"We view this as an exciting opportunity to create a transformative leap in the development of new biologically inspired material systems," Philen said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Lynn Nystrom
tansy@vt.edu
540-231-4371
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. AIBS names 2009 emerging public policy leaders
2. Hear about emerging trends in toxicology research
3. AAAS Symposium: Emerging threats to tropical, temperate and ocean ecosystems
4. ASM biodefense and emerging diseases research meeting
5. UD research study to shed light on emerging seaborne pathogen
6. NJIT seminar set for Nov. 6 to focus on bioelectronics -- emerging research area
7. World leaders in infectious diseases convene to discuss emerging global viruses
8. INCF organizes the first congress dedicated to the emerging field of neuroinformatics
9. Grant supports emerging field of massive data analysis and visual analytics
10. The emerging scientific discipline of aeroecology
11. The emerging story of plant roots
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
NSF Emerging Frontiers' program supports development of smart materials based on study of fish
(Date:4/13/2017)... 13, 2017 According to a new market research ... Analytics, Identity Administration, and Authorization), Service, Authentication Type, Deployment Mode, Vertical, and ... is expected to grow from USD 14.30 Billion in 2017 to USD ... 17.3%. ... MarketsandMarkets Logo ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... DUBLIN , Apr. 11, 2017 Research ... Tracking Market 2017-2021" report to their offering. ... The global eye tracking market to grow at ... The report, Global Eye Tracking Market 2017-2021, has been prepared based ... report covers the market landscape and its growth prospects over the ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... MELBOURNE, Florida , April 11, 2017 ... "Company"), a security technology company, announces the appointment of independent ... John Bendheim to its Board of Directors, furthering the ... ... behalf of NXT-ID, we look forward to their guidance and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/20/2017)... and PETACH TIKVAH, Israel , ... a leading developer of adult stem cell technologies for neurodegenerative ... Officer, will present at the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine,s (ARM) ... on Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 09:40 EDT in ... Ralph Kern , MD, MHSc, Chief Medical Officer & Chief ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... ... 18, 2017 , ... The Vibrating Orifice Aerosol Generator (VOAG) ... monodisperse droplets of known diameters for research applications such as for calibrating droplet ... drying monodisperse droplets. , The VOAG requires forcing liquid out of an ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... ... , ... Alisa Wright, founder and CEO of Singota Solutions , has ... in Lafayette, Indiana. , The Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 1984 to ... scientific endeavors. , Wright began her career in the pharmaceutical industry with firms ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... ... April 19, 2017 , ... Nobilis Therapeutics Announces Completion of ... Leverage Clinical Data in its Upcoming Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Trial , Nobilis ... clinical trial assessing efficacy of its NBTX-001, a xenon-based therapeutic in the treatment of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: