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:2/3/2016)... , February 4, 2016 --> ... SEK 1,351.5 M (105.0), up 1,187% compared with fourth quarter of 2014. ... to SEK 517.6 M (loss: 30.0). Earnings per share increased ... was SEK 537.4 M (neg: 74.7). , ... Revenues amounted to SEK 2,900.5 M (233.6), up 1,142% compared with 2014. ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... , Feb. 2, 2016 This BCC ... bioinformatic market by reviewing the recent advances in ... that drive the field forward. Includes forecast through ... Identify the challenges and opportunities that exist in ... software solution developers, as well as IT and ...
(Date:2/1/2016)... -- Rising sales of consumer electronics coupled ... gesture control market size through ... electronics coupled with new technological advancements to drive global ... through 2020   --> Rising ... to drive global touchfree intuitive gesture control market ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... -- The Maryland House of Delegates and House Speaker ... Maryland School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece ... System President and CEO Robert Chrencik , MBA, ... given to the public by the leader of the ... and Mr. Chrencik for their contributions to our statewide ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... New York (PRWEB) , ... ... ... Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) today announced that it has joined the Human Vaccines ... immunotherapies for infectious diseases and cancer. , The Human Vaccines Project ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... , Feb. 10, 2016  Matchbook, Inc., a ... fast growing biotech companies, announced today the appointment ... Strategic Advisor. Jim brings nearly 25 years of ... procurement, having spent nearly two decades in executive ... and Procurement at Genzyme and, most recently headed ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... LATHAM, NEW YORK... Marktech Optoelectronics ... West conference in San Francisco’s Moscone Center from February 16-18, 2016, and at ... , These latest InGaAs PIN diode standard packages feature a TO-46 metal can with ...
Breaking Biology Technology: