Researchers at ULP’s DIP Lab – specialists in the study of transport phenomena and fluid interfaces – developed in collaboration with the French Femto-SD company – specialists Microbiotics – Robot capable of moving on the surface of water; Thermopot. The latter uses the phenomenon of thermocapillary to move to the surface of a fluid.
In fact, the robot is a very simple piece of plastic that is very different from what we can imagine when we talk about a robot. 3D printed. However, the latter can still move on the surface of the water. How? ‘Or’ What? Thanks to the laser projected near it, it will heat the water. This physical reaction – and thanks to the phenomenon of thermocapillary – moves the material to the surface of the fluid. The laser heats the water surface to 2 to 3 ° C, which makes it possible to control the distribution of a parameter called surface tension, which triggers a complex, but controlled movement of fluid and allows many robots to move the air-liquid interface ”, explains News release From ULB.
Like an insect
The discovery of this Franco-Belgian study is partly based on the fact that it is of interest in a lesser environment: the surface of water, but is often used by insects in nature.
Currently, the thermopot requires clean water to operate, which necessarily limits usable conditions. In fact, there are still many obstacles to a real application for the micropot, but the ability to move an object in a controlled manner on the surface of the water is already a great achievement, and will lead to other discoveries. Robotic, But not only. There really is a question about how microbots can be integrated into new production processes. The thermopot can actually be used to assemble very small objects. In this case, the movements of the laser will be automatically thanks to the instructions.
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