Navigation Links
Ferns provide model for tiny motors powered by evaporation

Scientists looked to ferns to create a novel energy scavenging device that uses the power of evaporation to move itself---materials that could provide a method for powering micro and nano devices with just water or heat.

"We've shown that this idea works," said Michel Maharbiz, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science and principal investigator in the group that built the device. "If you build these things they will move. The key is to show that you can generate electricity from this."

As often happens, the research started while doctoral student Ruba Borno was exploring another idea entirely. Borno was interested in mimicking biological devices, specifically microchannels that plants use to transport water, so Maharbiz gave her a book on plants.

But something else in the book caught her attention---the section on how ferns spread their spores.

"It's essentially a microactuator," said Maharbiz, meaning that the fern sporangium transforms one form of energy, in this case heat via the evaporation of water, into motion. When the cells in the outer wall of the sporangium were water logged, the sporangium remained closed like a fist, storing the spores safely inside. But when the water in the outer wall evaporated, it caused the sporangium to unfurl and eject the spores into the environment.

The researchers examined some fern leaves under a microscope. They found that when exposed to light or heat or any evaporation-inducing event, the sporangia opened and released the spores.

"Once we saw that, we thought, 'Oh, we have to build that,'" Maharbiz said.

The method for making the material is simple enough. A wafer is coated with silicone and the hit with light, causing a pattern. The residual pattern is lifted off and that is used for the device. It resembles a curved spine with equally spaced ribs fanning outward from the spine.

To make the device move, Borno said, they load the s pace between the ribs with water, and when the water evaporates, the surface tension of the water pulls on the tips of the ribs so that the tips move toward each other, straightening out the spine of the device. In this way, the closed device opens wide---it moves.

They plan to add electrical components to the device in an attempt to generate electricity. They predict that the device will be able to generate the same amount of electricity as other scavenging devices, say, a solar cell in a calculator.

The ideal application, Borno said, would be to power a remote sensor where it's impossible to change the batteries regularly.


'"/>

Source:University of Michigan


Related biology news :

1. Experiments provide proof of how traveling in groups protects insects
2. Experiments provide proof of how traveling in groups protects insects
3. ASU researchers finds novel chemistry at work to provide parrots vibrant red colors
4. MetaChip provides quick, efficient toxicity screening of potential drugs
5. Alaskan puzzles, monitoring provide insight about North Pacific salmon runs
6. NYU and MSKCC research provides model for understanding chemically induced cancer initiation
7. Nature provides inspiration for important new adhesive
8. Hydrogen and methane provide raw energy for life at Lost City
9. Research may provide new link between soft drinks and weight gain
10. Hopkins AIDS experts issue warning about global efforts to provide drug therapies
11. High-powered gene profiles provide clues to genes involved in common form of lung cancer
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:3/31/2016)... R.I. , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm ... of founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who ... members of the original technical leadership team, including Chief ... President of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President ... returned to the company. Dr. Bready served ...
(Date:3/23/2016)... March 23, 2016 ... Sicherheit Gesichts- und Stimmerkennung mit Passwörtern ... (NASDAQ: MESG ), ein führender Anbieter ... Unternehmen mit SpeechPro zusammenarbeitet, um erstmals dessen ... wird die Möglichkeit angeboten, im Rahmen mobiler ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... Ontario , PROVO and ... Newborn Screening Ontario (NSO), which operates the ... for molecular testing, and Tute Genomics and UNIConnect, ... management technology respectively, today announced the launch of a ... next-generation sequencing (NGS) testing panel. NSO ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... While the majority of commercial spectrophotometers and fluorometers ... the 6000i models are higher end machines that use the more unconventional z-dimension of ... beam from the bottom of the cuvette holder. , FireflySci has developed several ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced the creation ... biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or "the ... a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for the ... WDR5 represent an exciting class of therapies, possessing ... for cancer patients. Substantial advances have been achieved ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016  The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a university competition ... harness living systems and biotechnology, announced its winning teams ... New York City . The ... projects at MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during the daylong ... senior curator of architecture and design, and Suzanne ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced positive ... its complement C3 inhibitor, APL-2. The trials were ... studies designed to assess the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics ... healthy adult volunteers. Forty subjects were ... dose (ranging from 45 to 1,440mg) or repeated ...
Breaking Biology Technology: