The materials engineerIt is one of the fields of science that have been giving us the most surprises in recent years, as these liquid marbles demonstrate.
In fact, the latest discovery in this area has left us with our mouths open, as it shows once again that everything has been invented and that you only have to look at the nature to find it.
It is a small droplets of water covered with a specific type of plastic that makes them capable of carrying weights 150 times above yours. And how did they do it? With the help of a laser and taking inspiration from beetle.
The water beetle, the inspirer of the invention
We already told you about the lily leaf beetle, whose body is perfectly adapted to walk on water without the need for miracles. However, this is not the only beetle capable of performing this feat, since there is another, known as water beetle or stenus,that uses other methods to achieve the same result.
And it is that, as if it were a power boat, this little animal is able to run on water at a great speed using fuel as stenusino, a liquid contained in its anal glandswhosehydrophobic character (repels water) generates changes in surface tension (the stability of the liquid surface) behind the beetle, so that it is driven by water due to a physical effect known as Marangoni effect.
What do these liquid marbles consist of?
After observing this typical phenomenon of beetles, a group of researchers from the Osaka Institute of Technology, in Japan, they decided to imitate the process to achieve an easy and fast method of transport certain substances.
For this, they took water droplets with a size of the scale of the A thousand meters and covered them with polypropylene powderHe, a plastic whose two main characteristics with which heats up when illuminated and that it repels water, due to its hydrophobic character.
This process gave rise to a kind of Tiny Marble Marbles with the liquid locked inside that were placed in a swimming pool full of water. Once there, the surface of the balls began to be heated with a laser so that as the plastic heated, they were propelled due to changes in the surface tensionl of the surrounding water.
What are liquid marbles for?
To test the usefulness of their discovery, these scientists tried to associate the balls with small plastic boats, checking that they could move up to 150 times its weight.
On the other hand, they verified that if the marble was irradiated during a extended timeIt unravels by releasing its content, offering an immense range of possibilities in the transport of encapsulated materials and the drug administration so that they are released only in the desired place.
The things that can be achieved by observing the behavior of a beetle.