Stingrays swim through water with such ease that researchers from the University at Buffalo and Harvard University are studying how their movements could be used to design more agile and fuel-efficient unmanned underwater vehicles.
Richard Bottom, left, and Iman Borazjani hope their research on how stingrays swim will lead to the design of new underwater vehicles. (Photo: Douglas Levere)
The vehicles could allow researchers to more efficiently study the mostly unexplored ocean depths, and they could also serve during clean up or rescue efforts.
“Most fish wag their tails to swim. A stingray's swimming is much more unique, like a flag in the wind,” says Richard Bottom, a UB mechanical engineering graduate student participating in the research.
Bottom and Iman Borazjani, UB assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, set out to investigate the form-function relationship of the stingray — why it looks the way it does and what it gets from moving the way it does.
They will explain their findings at the 66th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics. Their lecture, “Biofluids: Locomotion III – Flying,” is at 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 24, in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The researchers used computational fluid dynamics, which employs algorithms to solve problems that involve fluid flows, to map the flow of water and the vortices around live stingrays.
The study is believed to be the first time the leading-edge vortex, the vortex at the front of an object in motion, has been studied in underwater locomotion, says Borazjani. The leading-edge vortex has been observed in the flight of birds and insects, and is one of the most important thrust enhancement mechanics in insect flight.
The vortices on the waves of the stingrays’ bodies cause favorable pressure fields — low pressure on the front and high pressure on the back — which push the ray forward. Because movement through air and water are similar, understanding vortices are critical.
“By looking at nature, we can learn from it and come up with new designs for cars, planes and submarines,” says Borazjani. “But we’re not just mimicking nature. We want to understand the underlying physics for future use in engineering or central designs.”
Studies have already proven that stingray motion closely resembles the most optimal swimming gait, says Bottom. Much of this is due to the stingray’s unique flat and round shape, which allows them to easily glide through water.
Borazjani and Bottom plan to continue their research and study the differences in movement among several types of rays.Marcene Robinson
Marcene Robinson | EurekAlert!
Lego-like wall produces acoustic holograms
17.10.2016 | Duke University
New evidence on terrestrial and oceanic responses to climate change over last millennium
11.10.2016 | University of Granada
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering