Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




TECH SPACE
Are plant hydraulics a path to adaptive dream machines?
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 20, 2011


Airplanes might soon have flexible wings like birds and robots could change shape as they please thanks to research under way on mimosa plants, researchers said.

The shrub's leaves, which can retract at the slightest of touches, could inspire a new class of structures that can twist, bend, harden and even repair themselves, explained University of Michigan professor of mechanical engineering Kon-Well Wang.

"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," he said Saturday at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"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," he said.

The mimosa is a type of plant able to move itself in a way that is visible to the naked eye in real time. The plant's "hydraulic system" makes that "nastic motion" possible.

"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," the researcher explained.

Observing the process can be a gateway to designing cells with special mechanical properties, he believes.

"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," Wang said.

"We can design those cells according to our needs. We can put those cells into structure, control them in different sequences," he explained.

"Currently we are looking at basic research only, but there are some applications that we have in mind," Wang said.

He mentioned the notions for example of planes able to change the shape of their wings while in flight as birds do; and other machines that change their shape perhaps to go under a bridge.

"You cannot make a plane wing deform to be able to achieve optimum flight condition in different scenario," he said. But "this kind of technology could help that because we can make the wing active and change its mechanical properties."

Meanwhile, auditory sensory cells that help humans hear and give them various detection capabilities are another source of inspiration from nature to develop more sophisticated technologies.

Chang Liu, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan (north), led a research group that produced artificial hair cells.

"The hair cell is interesting because biology uses this same fundamental structure to serve a variety of purpose," he told a press conference. "This differs from how engineers typically design sensors, which are often used for a specific task."

In creating these artificial cells with the use of nanotechnology, researchers have significantly improved the sensitivity of the sensors while understanding better how various animals use them.

And all fish are equipped with lateral auditory cells as well.

However, amphibians are not equipped with such sensors, which provide still more information about the movement of water, said Chang Liu.

For now, he is focusing on medical applications as sensors of fluid in the apparatus or at the end of a catheter.

.


Related Links
Space Technology News - Applications and Research






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





TECH SPACE
Electronic Arts sees bright digital future despite loss
San Francisco (AFP) Feb 1, 2011
US videogame giant Electronic Arts (EA) on Tuesday reported a deepened loss in the last quarter but saw a bright future as players opt increasingly for online play and digital downloads. The Northern California-based firm posted a net loss of $322 million on net revenue $1.05 billion in the quarter ending December 31 as compared with a loss of $82 million on revenue of $1.24 billion in the s ... read more


TECH SPACE
Waiter, There's Metal In My Moon Water

Japan eyes humanoid robot mission in space

Astrobotic Technology Annouces Lunar Mission On SpaceX Falcon 9

LRO Could Have Given Apollo 14 Crew Another Majestic View

TECH SPACE
Experiment volunteers take 2nd 'walk on Mars'

Walking On Mars

Opportunity Catching The Rays During Solar Conjunction

Mars, Brought To You By Corporate Sponsors

TECH SPACE
Obama vows US will 'out-hustle' world

Europe's ATV Johannes Kepler Supply Ship On Its Way To Space Station

Space Operations Inc Announces First Orbital Manned Commercial Spacecraft Operational By 2012

As US cuts back, China aims to be top at science

TECH SPACE
Shenzhou 8 Mission Could Top Three Weeks

U.S. wary of China space weapons

Slow progress in U.S.-China space efforts

China Builds Theme Park In Spaceport

TECH SPACE
Cosmonauts Conclude Russia 28th Spacewalk from Station

Ariane 5 Launches Second ATV Space Truck

Astro_Paolo And Views From Space

Cosmonauts To Perform 28th Russian Space Station Spacewalk

TECH SPACE
SpaceX to focus on astronaut capsule

ILS Appoints Vice President Of Sales Marketing And Communications

Ariane 5's Mission With The Automated Transfer Vehicle Is Postponed

Ariane 5 Ready For Launch Of Automated Transfer Vehicle Johannes Kepler

TECH SPACE
Direct Images Of Disks Unravel Mystery Of Planet Formation

New Instrument Will Help Confirm Kepler Planet Finds

NASA Finds Earth-Size Planet Candidates In Habitable Zone

Las Cumbres Scientists Play Key Role In New Planetry System Discovery

TECH SPACE
Southampton Scientists Develop Control System To Allow Spacecraft To Think For Themselves

Are plant hydraulics a path to adaptive dream machines?

Champions shaping up for browser battles

No US stockpile of rare earths: experts




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement