Navigation Links
Beetle-inspired switch uses water for bonding

Imagine this: A tiny, fast switch that uses water droplets to create adhesive bonds almost as strong as aluminum by borrowing a mechanism found in palm beetles.

The new beetle-inspired switch, designed by Cornell University engineers, can work by itself on the scale of a micron -- a millionth of a meter. The switches can be combined in arrays for larger applications like powerful adhesive bonding. Like the transistor, whose varied uses became apparent only following its invention, the uses of the new switch are not yet understood. But the switch's simplicity, smallness and speed have enormous potential, according to the researchers.

"Almost all the greatest technological advances have depended on switches, and this is a switch that is fast and can be scaled down," said Paul Steen, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Cornell and co-author of a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Vol. 102, No. 34).

Steen dreamed up the idea of the switch after listening to Cornell entomologist Tom Eisner lecture on palm beetles, which are native to the southeastern United States.

Like the beetle, which clings to a palm leaf at adhesive strengths equal to a hundred times its own body weight -- the human equivalent of carrying seven cars -- the switch in its most basic form uses surface tension created by water droplets in contact with a surface, in much the same way as two pieces of wet paper cling together.

When attacked, the palm beetle attaches itself to a leaf until the attacker leaves. It adheres with 120,000 droplets of secreted oil, each making a bridgelike contact between the beetle's feet and the leaf. Each droplet is just a few microns wide. Whereas the beetle controls the oil contacts mechanically, Steen's switch uses water and electricity.

For the switch to make or release a bond created by surface tension, a water droplet moves to the top or bottom of a flat p late surface using electricity from electrodes. The electricity moves positively charged atoms, called ions, in the water through the minute capillaries of a thin disk of porous glass embedded in the plate. The water moves and wells up into a micrometer-sized droplet on the plate surface. The exposed droplet can then stick to another surface. To break the bond, electricity pulls the exposed water back through the capillary pores.

With millimeter-sized water droplets and micron-sized pores, 5 volts can turn the switch on in one second. At the same time, the researchers predict that smaller droplets will require less energy to move and have faster switching times. Steen and his colleagues believe that a switch as small as hundreds of nanometers, close to a billionth of a meter and one-tenth the size of the beetle droplets, is within reach. Researchers could also create large effects from many tiny switches by connecting them in various arrangements, Steen said.

"This new technology bridges the gap between scales as large as our hands and nanoscales," said Steen. "We need devices that allow us to communicate between the two scales."

Co-authors include Michael Vogel, a postdoctoral researcher in Cornell's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and researcher Peter Ehrhard at the Institute for Nuclear and Energy Technologies in Karlsruhe, Germany. Since much of this work was conducted while the three scientists were at the German institute, the patent application was filed in Germany.
'"/>

Source:Cornell University News Service


Related biology news :

1. Scientists ID molecular switch in liver that triggers harmful effects of saturated and trans fats
2. Bad aftertaste? New sensory on/off switch may cure bane of artificial sweetener search
3. Single gene is genetic switch for fly sexual behavior
4. UT Southwestern researchers discover master switch in cell death
5. A dimmer switch for genes
6. Scientists discover the molecular switch for nerve cells insulating jelly rolls
7. Switching to new anti-bacterial targets: Riboswitches
8. Hot-spring bacteria flip a metabolic switch
9. Animal models show that anabolic steroids flip the adolescent brains switch for aggression
10. Master genetic switch found for chronic pain
11. Nano machine switches between biological and silicon worlds

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:2/9/2016)... 9, 2016 Vigilant Solutions announces today that an ... to develop a lead in a difficult homicide case. The ... to locate the suspect vehicle. Due to the ongoing investigation, ... been omitted at the agency,s request. --> ... "Our victim was found deceased at an intersection here in ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... 2016 --> ... "Automated Fingerprint Identification System Market by Component (Hardware and ... & Finance, Government, Healthcare, and Transportation) and Geography - ... is expected to be worth USD 8.49 Billion by ... and 2020. The transformation and technology evolution from the ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... Checkpoint Inhibitors for Cancer – Explore ... you interested in the future of cancer drugs? ... Visiongain,s report gives those predictions to 2026 at ... Avoid falling behind in data or losing ... those emerging cancer therapies can achieve. There you ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/12/2016)... , Feb. 12, 2016  PTC Therapeutics, Inc. ... annual STRIVE (Strategies to Realize Innovation, Vision and ... (DMD). STRIVE provides funds to patient advocacy organizations ... make meaningful contributions to the rare disease community ... of future patient advocates. Mary ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... Non-profit Consortium Aims to Generate Genomic ... Research and Discovery --> --> ... plan to sequence 100,000 individuals. It is intended to initially ... 7 of North and East Asian countries. ... project will focus on creating phased reference genomes for all ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... Texas , Feb. 11, 2016  Vermillion, Inc. ... on gynecologic disease, today announced the formation of the ... --> --> Pelvic masses ... both diagnosis and management. Once pregnancy is ruled out, ... tubes and ovaries, advanced endometriosis, benign ovarian tumors and ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... NEW YORK , Feb. 11, 2016  Bioethics International, ... how medicines are researched, developed, marketed and made accessible to ... BMJ Open had named the publication of the ... for 2015. The publication is also featured as one of ... published in the last year that are most frequently read. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: