A team of scientists from Oxford University has shown how the natural movement of bacteria could be harnessed to assemble and power microscopic ‘windfarms’.
The study, published in the journal Science Advances, uses computer simulations to demonstrate that the chaotic swarming effect of dense active matter such as bacteria can be organised to turn cylindrical rotors and provide a steady power source.
Researchers say these biologically driven power plants could someday be the microscopic engines for tiny, man-made devices that are self-assembled and self-powered.
Co-author Dr Tyler Shendruk, from Oxford University’s Department of Physics, said: ‘Many of society’s energy challenges are on the gigawatt scale, but some are downright microscopic. One potential way to generate tiny amounts of power for micromachines might be to harvest it directly from biological systems such as bacteria suspensions.’
Dense bacterial suspensions are the quintessential example of active fluids that flow spontaneously. While swimming bacteria are capable of swarming and driving disorganised living flows, they are normally too disordered to extract any useful power from.
But when the Oxford team immersed a lattice of 64 symmetric microrotors into this active fluid, the scientists found that the bacteria spontaneously organised itself in such a way that neighbouring rotors began to spin in opposite directions – a simple structural organisation reminiscent of a windfarm.
Dr Shendruk added: ‘The amazing thing is that we didn’t have to pre-design microscopic gear-shaped turbines. The rotors just self-assembled into a sort of bacterial windfarm.
‘When we did the simulation with a single rotor in the bacterial turbulence, it just got kicked around randomly. But when we put an array of rotors in the living fluid, they suddenly formed a regular pattern, with neighbouring rotors spinning in opposite directions.’
Co-author Dr Amin Doostmohammadi, from Oxford University’s Department of Physics, said: ‘The ability to get even a tiny amount of mechanical work from these biological systems is valuable because they do not need an input power and use internal biochemical processes to move around.
‘At micro scales, our simulations show that the flow generated by biological assemblies is capable of reorganising itself in such a way as to generate a persistent mechanical power for rotating an array of microrotors.’
Senior author Professor Julia Yeomans, from Oxford University’s Department of Physics, added: ‘Nature is brilliant at creating tiny engines, and there is enormous potential if we can understand how to exploit similar designs.’
The Latest on: Micromachines
No news articles
via Google News
The Latest on: Micromachines
- Those magnificent researchers and their micromachineson December 1, 2020 at 4:14 am
Newly developed micromachines show promise for delivering therapeutics to target sites and expansion into other applications.
- NASA selects Boston Micromachines for space mirroron November 27, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Home NASA selects Boston Micromachines for space mirror WATERTOWN, Mass., 28 Nov. 2005. Boston Micromachines Corp. today announced that it has been selected by NASA for a Phase 2 contract. NASA's ...
- A new book is looking at the craft and legacy of Micro Machineson November 27, 2020 at 1:04 am
“Remember, if it doesn’t say Micro Machines, it’s not the real thing!” Some will no doubt recognise this slogan from the Micro Machines ads that aired in the late 80s and 90s. The line was uttered at ...
- ETH Zurich develops technique for creating metal-polymer micromachineson November 25, 2020 at 10:00 am
Scientists from ETH Zurich in Switzerland have developed a method for manufacturing micromachines composed of both metal and polymer for drug delivery applications inside the body. Small enough to one ...
- Miniscule robots of metal and plasticon November 24, 2020 at 8:04 am
Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have succeeded for the first time in building such "micromachines" out of metal and plastic, in which these two materials are interlocked as closely as links in a chain.
- See metal and plastic micromachines zip aroundon November 23, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Now, scientists have succeeded for the first time in building such “micromachines” out of metal and plastic, in which these two materials are interlocked as closely as links in a chain.
- Micromachines Making Headway in Medical Applicationson November 22, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Fighting to switch the industry focus away from automotive applications, medical-use micromachines are introducing some amazing new technologies that are cheaper than their standard-size counterparts.
- Modelling microswimmers for drug deliveryon November 18, 2020 at 5:18 pm
Theoretical physicists have modeled the motion of microscopic, motile bodies - either powered micro-machines or living cells - in viscous liquid drops, using the Navier-Stokes equations.
- Plasmonic linear nanomotor using lateral optical forceson November 4, 2020 at 2:24 pm
6 Department of Physics, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK. See allHide authors and affiliations Optical force is a powerful tool to actuate micromachines. Conventional approaches often ...
- Micro Machines Movie 1on October 17, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Take a look at the intro movie to Micro Machines for the PlayStation 2. This game will offer the same fast-paced top-down racing with miniature vehicles that the Micro Machines series is known for.
via Bing News