Navigation Links
Plants that can move inspire new adaptive structures
Date:2/19/2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---The Mimosa plant, which folds its leaves when they're touched, is inspiring a new class of adaptive structures designed to twist, bend, stiffen and even heal themselves. University of Michigan researchers are leading their development.

Mechanical engineering professor Kon-Well Wang will present the team's latest work Feb. 19 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's 2011 Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. He will also speak at a news briefing earlier that day. Wang is the Stephan P. Timoshenko Collegiate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

"This is quite different from other traditional adaptive materials approaches," Wang said. "In general, people use solid-state materials to make adaptive structures. This is really a unique concept inspired by biology."

Researchers at U-M and Penn State University are studying how plants like the Mimosa can change shape, and they're working to replicate the mechanisms in artificial cells. Today, their artificial cells are palm-size and larger. But they're trying to shrink them by building them with microstructures and nanofibers. They're also exploring how to replicate the mechanisms by which plants heal themselves.

"We want to put it all together to create hyper-cellular structures with circulatory networks," Wang said.

The Mimosa is among the plant varieties that exhibit specialized "nastic motions," large movements you can see in real time with the naked eye, said Erik Nielsen, assistant professor in the U-M Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology.

The phenomenon is made possible by osmosis, the flow of water in and out of plants' cells. Triggers such as touch cause water to leave certain plant cells, collapsing them. Water enters other cells, expanding them. These microscopic shifts allow the plants to move and change shape on a larger scale.

It's hydraulics, the researchers say.

"We know that plants can deform with large actuation through this pumping action," Wang said. "This and several other characteristics of plant cells and cell walls have inspired us to initiate ideas that could concurrently realize many of the features that we want to achieve for adaptive structures."

Nielsen believes nastic movements might be a good place to start trying to replicate plant motions because they don't require new growth or a reorganization of cells.

"These rapid, nastic motions are based on cells and tissues that are already there," Nielsen said. "It's easy for a plant to build new cells and tissues during growth, but it's not as easy to engineer an object or machine to completely change the way it's organized. We hope studying these motions can inform us about how to make efficient adaptive materials that display some of the same types of flexibility that we see in biological systems."

When this technology matures, Wang said it could enable robots that change shape like elephant trunks or snakes to maneuver under a bridge or through a tunnel, but then turn rigid to grab a hold of something. It also could lead to morphing wings that would allow airplanes to behave more like birds, changing their wing shape and stiffness in response to their environment or the task at hand.


'/>"/>

Contact: Nicole Casal Moore
ncmoore@umich.edu
734-647-7087
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Plants cloned as seeds
2. 2 new plants discovered in Spain
3. Stem cell transplants help kidney damage
4. Invasive plants can create positive ecological change
5. Different evolutionary paths lead plants and animals to the same crossroads
6. Plants can adapt genetically to survive harsh environments
7. Free radicals in cornea may contribute to Fuchs dystrophy, most common cause of corneal transplants
8. Fast growth, low defense -- plants facing a dilemma
9. Forest Service offers free guide to managing invasive plants
10. UC Davis study shows plants moved downhill, not up, in warming world
11. Gene helps plants use less water without biomass loss
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/22/2016)... SuperCom (NASDAQ:   SPCB ... Safety, HealthCare, and Finance sectors announced today that Leaders in Community ... and deploy a community-based supportive services program to reduce recidivism in ... expanding its presence in the state. ... This new program, which is expected to commence ...
(Date:12/16/2016)... 16, 2016   IdentyTechSolutions America LLC , ... and solutions and a cutting-edge manufacturer of software ... is offering seamless, integrated solutions that comprise IDT ... The solutions provide IdentyTech,s customers with combined physical ... from crime and theft. "We are ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... 2016   WaferGen Bio-systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... announced today that on December 13, 2016, it received ... Nasdaq Stock Market LLC which acknowledged that, as of ... common stock had been at $1.00 or greater for ... with Listing Rule 5550(a)(2) of the Nasdaq Stock Market. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/19/2017)... ... January 19, 2017 , ... ... and development (R&D), today announced the launch of Data Science Services ... the rapidly evolving field of precision medicine. , Data Science Services ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... ... January 18, 2017 , ... The ... (NIH) to update its Data Sharing Policy. Specifically, the nation’s leading informatics experts, ... subject to the existing policy. AMIA recommended that NIH earmark funding for researchers ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... Md. , Jan. 18, 2017  Northwest Biotherapeutics, ... developing DCVax® personalized immune therapies for operable and inoperable ... Bosch , Chief Technical Officer of NW Bio, will ... January 19, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in ... Bosch will chair the session entitled "New Therapeutic Approaches ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... --  Boston Biomedical , an industry leader in the ... pathways, will feature data from two clinical studies for ... Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, held from January 19-21, in ... is an orally-administered investigational agent designed to inhibit cancer ... cells (CSCs) possess the property of stemness – the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: