Crunchy as it appears, the structure above is no chocolate wafer resting atop a dandelion. It is metallic micro-lattice, newly christened the world’s lightest material. Created for DARPA by HRL Laboratories in collaboration with researchers at the California Institute of Technology and the University of California, this material is so light that it can balance on dandelion fluff without crushing it. However, don’t be deceived by its size or weight, as materials can actually get stronger when shrunk to nanoscale.
Just because humans have fingers doesn’t mean that robots need to have them too.
Researchers have developed a new type of robotic hand – a soft gripping mechanism that stiffens when air is sucked out.
The hand is essentially a latex balloon filled with ground coffee (because the grounds are both lightweight and pliable). Its softness allows the robot hand to conform to the shape of hard objects.
Has life got you climbing up the walls? Well, soon you may be able to do it for real – and as well as a gecko.
Geckos are able to stick to walls thanks to a technique called dry adhesion. Each toe of a gecko’s foot contains hundreds of flap-like ridges, and each ridge has millions of hairs.
The tiny hairs are 10 times thinner than a human’s and each one divides into even smaller strands called spatulae. These split ends interact with the molecules of the climbing surface using the van der Waals force, and stick to it when pulled in one direction. If pulled in a different direction, however, the adhesive comes right off.
Now, Stanford University mechanical engineers have created a robot that will replicate a gecko’s sticky foot in order to climb walls.
Biomimicry is back again, and this time butterflies are the source of imitation.
The Morpho butterfly possesses acute chemical-sensing abilities thanks to nano-level structures underneath the colorful scales on its wings.
The submicroscopic structures can pick up even the smallest trace of airborne chemicals and the exposure changes the spectral reflectivity of the butterfly’s wings.